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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Hebrews 1:14

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?

Adam Clarke Commentary

Are they not all ministering spirits - That is, They are all ministering spirits; for the Hebrews often express the strongest affirmative by an interrogation.

All the angels, even those of the highest order, are employed by their Creator to serve those who believe in Christ Jesus. What these services are, and how performed, it would be impossible to state. Much has been written on the subject, partly founded on Scripture, and partly on conjecture. They are, no doubt, constantly employed in averting evil and procuring good. If God help man by man, we need not wonder that he helps man by angels. We know that he needs none of those helps, for he can do all things himself; yet it seems agreeable to his infinite wisdom and goodness to use them. This is part of the economy of God in the government of the world and of the Church; and a part, no doubt, essential to the harmony and perfection of the whole. The reader may see a very sensible discourse on this text in vol. ii., page 133, of the Rev. John Wesley's works, American edition. Dr. Owen treats the subject at large in his comment on this verse, vol. iii., page 141, edit. 8vo., which is just now brought to my hand, and which appears to be a very learned, judicious, and important work, but by far too diffuse. In it the words of God are drowned in the sayings of man.

The Godhead of Christ is a subject of such great importance, both to the faith and hope of a Christian, that I feel it necessary to bring it full into view, wherever it is referred to in the sacred writings. It is a prominent article in the apostle's creed, and should be so in ours. That this doctrine cannot be established on Hebrews 1:8; has been the assertion of many. To what I have already said on this verse, I beg leave to subjoin the following criticisms of a learned friend, who has made this subject his particular study.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/hebrews-1.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Are they not all - There is not one of them that is elevated to the high rank of the Redeemer. Even the most exalted angel is employed in the comparatively humble office of a ministering spirit appointed to aid the heirs of salvation. “Ministering spirits.” A “ministering” spirit is one that is employed to execute the will of God. The proper meaning of the word here - λειτουργικὰ leitourgika- (whence our word “liturgy”) is, “pertaining to public service,” or “the service of the people” ( λαός laosand is applied particularly to those who were engaged in the public service of the temple. They were those who rendered aid to others; who were helpers, or servants. Such is the meaning as used here. They are employed to render “aid” or “assistance” to others - to wit, to Christians. “Sent forth.” Appointed by God for this. They are “sent;” are under his control; are in a subordinate capacity.

Thus, Gabriel was sent forth to convey an important message to Daniel; Daniel 9:21-23. “To minister.” For the help or succour of such. They come to render them assistance - and, if employed in this humble office, how much inferior to the dignity of the Son of God - the Creator and Ruler of the worlds! “Who shall be heirs of salvation.” To the saints; to Christians. They are called “heirs of salvation” because they are adopted into the family of God, and are treated as his sons; see notes on Romans 8:14-17. The main point here is, that the angels are employed in a much more humble capacity than the Son of God; and, therefore, that he sustains a far more elevated rank. But while the apostle has proved that, he has incidentally stated an exceedingly interesting and important doctrine, that the angels are employed to further the salvation of the people of God, and to aid them in their journey to heaven.

In this doctrine there is nothing absurd. It is no more improbable that angels should be employed to aid man, than that one man should aid another; certainly not as improbable as that the Son of God should come down “not to be ministered unto but to minister,” Matthew 20:28, and that he performed on earth the office of a servant; John 13:1-15. Indeed it is a great principle of the divine administration that one class of God‘s creatures are to minister to others; that one is to aid another to assist him in trouble, to provide for him when poor, and to counsel him in perplexity. We are constantly deriving benefit from others, and are dependent on their counsel and help. Thus, God has appointed parents to aid their children; neighbors to aid their neighbors: the rich to aid the poor; and all over the world the principle is seen, that one is to derive benefit from the aid of others. Why may not the angels be employed in this service?

They are pure, benevolent, powerful; and as man was ruined in the fall by the temptation offered by one of an angelic, though fallen nature, why should not others of angelic, unfallen holiness come to assist in repairing the evils which their fallen, guilty brethren have inflicted on the race? To me there seems to be a beautiful propriety in bringing “aid” from another race, as “ruin” came from another race; and that as those endowed with angelic might, though with fiendish malignity, ruined man, those with angelic might, but heavenly benevolence, should aid in his recovery and salvation. Further, it is, from the necessity of the case, a great principle, that the weak shall be aided by the strong; the ignorant by the enlightened; the impure by the pure; the tempted by those who have not fallen by temptation. All over the world we see this in operation; and it constitutes the beauty of the moral arrangements on the earth; and why shall not this be extended to the inhabitants of other abodes? Why shall not angels, with their superior intelligence, benevolence, and power, come in to perfect this system, and show how much adapted it is to glorify God? In regard to the ways in which angels become ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation, the Scriptures have not fully informed us, but facts are mentioned which will furnish some light on this inquiry. What they do now may be learned from the Scripture account of what they have done - as it seems to be a fair principle of interpretation that they are engaged in substantially the same employment in which they have ever been. The following methods of angelic interposition in behalf of man are noted in the Scriptures:

(1) They feel a deep interest in man. Thus, the Saviour says, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth;” Luke 15:10. Thus also he says, when speaking of the “little ones” that compose his church, “in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven;” Matthew 18:10.

(2) they feel a special interest in all that relates to the redemption of man. Thus, Peter says of the things pertaining to redemption, “which things the angels desire to look into;” 1 Peter 1:12. In accordance with this they are represented as praising God over the fields of Bethlehem, where the shepherds were to whom it was announced that a Saviour was born Luke 2:13; an angel announced to Mary that she would be the mother of the Messiah Luke 1:26; an angel declared to the shepherds that He was born Luke 2:10; the angels came and ministered to Him in His temptation Matthew 4:11; an angel strengthened Him in the garden of Gethsemane Luke 22:43; angels were present in the sepulchre where the Lord Jesus had been laid, to announce His resurrection to His disciples John 20:12; and they reappeared to his disciples on Mount Olivet to assure them that he would return and receive his people to him self, Acts 1:10.

(3) they appear for the defense and protection of the people of God. Thus it is said Psalm 34:7, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” Thus, two angels came to hasten Lot from the cities of the plain, and to rescue him from the impending destruction; Genesis 19:1, Genesis 19:15. Thus, an angel opened the prison doors of the apostles, and delivered them when they had been confined by the Jews; Acts 5:19. Thus, the angel of the Lord delivered Peter from prison when he had been confined by Herod; Acts 12:7-8.

(4) angels are sent to give us strength to resist temptation. Aid was thus furnished to the Redeemer in the garden of Gethsemane, when there “appeared an angel from heaven strengthening him;” Luke 22:43. The great trial there seems to have been somehow connected with temptation; some influence of the power of darkness, or of the Prince of evil; Luke 22:53; compare John 14:30. In this aid which they rendered to the tempted Redeemer, and in the assistance which they render to us when tempted, there is a special fitness and propriety. Man was at first tempted by a fallen angel. No small part - if not all the temptations in the world - are under the direction now of fallen angels. They roam at large “seeking whom they may devour;” 1 Peter 5:8. The temptations which occur in life, the numerous allurements which beset our path, all have the marks of being under the control of dark and malignant spirits. What, therefore, can be more appropriate than for the pure angels of God to interpose and aid man against the skill and wiles of their fallen and malignant fellow-spirits? Fallen angelic power and skill - power and skill far above the capability and the strength of man - are employed to ruin us, and how desirable is it for like power and skill, under the guidance of benevolence, to come in to aid us!

(5) they support us in affliction. Thus, an angel brought a cheering message to Daniel; the angels were present to give comfort to the disciples of the Saviour when he had been taken from them by death, and when he ascended to heaven. Why may it not be so now, that important consolations, in some way, are imparted to us by angelic influence? And,

(6) they attend dying saints, and conduct them to glory. Thus, the Saviour says of Lazarus that when he died he was “carried by the angels into Abraham‘s bosom;” Luke 16:22. Is there any impropriety in supposing that the same thing may be done still? Assuredly, if anywhere heavenly aid is needed, it is when the spirit leaves the body. If anywhere a guide is needed, it is when the ransomed soul goes up the unknown path to God. And if angels are employed on any messages of mercy to mankind, it is proper that it should be when life is closing, and the spirit is about to ascend to heaven. Should it be said that they are invisible, and that it is difficult to conceive how we can be aided by beings whom we never see, I answer, I know that they are unseen. They no longer appear as they once did to be the visible protectors and defenders of the people of God. But no small part of the aid which we receive from others comes from sources unseen by us. We owe more to unseen benefactors than to those whom we see, and the most grateful of all aid, perhaps, is what is furnished by a hand which we do not see, and from quarters which we cannot trace. How many an orphan is benefited by some unseen and unknown benefactor! So it may be a part of the great arrangements of Divine Providence that many of the most needed and acceptable interpositions for our welfare should come to us from invisible sources, and be conveyed to us from God by unseen hands.

Remarks

1. The Christian religion has a claim on the attention of man. God has spoken to us in the Gospel by his Son; Hebrews 1:1-2. This fact constitutes a claim on us to attend to what is spoken in the New Testament. When God sent prophets to address people, endowing them with more than human wisdom and eloquence, and commanding them to deliver solemn messages to mankind, that was a reason why people should hear. But how much more important is the message which is brought by his own Son! How much more exalted the Messenger! How much higher his claim to our attention and regard! compare Matthew 21:37. Yet it is lamentable to reflect how few attended to him when he lived on the earth, and how few comparatively regard him now. The great mass of people feel no interest in the fact that the Son of God has come and spoken to the human race. Few take the pains to read what he said, though all the records of the discourses of the Saviour could be read in a few hours.

A newspaper is read; a poem; a novel; a play; a history of battles and sieges; but the New Testament is neglected, and there are thousands even in Christian lands who have not even read through the Sermon on the Mount! Few also listen to the truths which the Redeemer taught when they are proclaimed in the sanctuary. Multitudes never go to the place where the gospel is preached; multitudes when there are engaged in thinking of other things, or are wholly inattentive to the truths which are proclaimed. Such a reception has the Son of God met with in our world! The most wonderful of all events is, that he should have come from heaven to be the teacher of mankind; next to that, the most wonderful event is that, when he has come, people feel no interest in the fact, and refuse to listen to what he says of the unseen and eternal world. What a man will say about the possibility of making a fortune by some wild speculation will be listened to with the deepest interest; but what the Redeemer says about the “certainty” of heaven and eternal riches there, excites no emotion: what one from the dead might say about the unseen world would excite the profoundest attention; what he has said who has always dwelt in the unseen world, and who knows all that has occurred there, and all that is yet to occur, awakens no interest, and excites no inquiry. Such is man. The visit, too, of an illustrious stranger - like Lafayette to America - will rouse a nation, and spread enthusiasm everywhere; the visit of the Son of God to the earth on a great errand of mercy is regarded as an event of no importance, and excites no interest in the great mass of human hearts.

2. Christ is divine. In the view of the writer of this Epistle he was undoubtedly regarded as equal with God. This is so clear that it seems wonderful that it should ever have been called in question. He who made the worlds; who is to be worshipped by the angels; who is addressed as God; who is said to have laid the foundation of the earth, and to have made the heavens, and to be unchanged when all these things shall pass away, must be divine. These are the attributes of God, and belong to him alone. These things could not be spoken of a man, an angel, an archangel. It is impossible to conceive that attributes like these could belong to a creature. If they could, then all our notions of what constitutes the distinction between God and his creatures are confounded, and we can have no intelligible idea of God.

3. It is not improbable that Christ is the medium of communicating the knowledge of the divine essence and perfections to all worlds. He is the brightness of the divine glory - the showing forth - the manifestation of God; Hebrews 1:3. The body of the sun is not seen - certainly not by the naked eye. We cannot look upon it. But there is a shining, a brightness, a glory, a manifestation which is seen! It is in the sun-beams, the manifestation of the glory and the existence of the sun. By his shining the sun is known. So the Son of God - incarnate or not - may be the manifestation of the divine essence. And from this illustration, may we not without irreverence derive an illustration of the doctrine of the glorious Trinity? There is the body of the sun - to us invisible - yet great and glorious, and the source of all light, and heat, and life. The vast body of the sun is the source of all this radiance, the fountain of all that warms and enlivens.

All light and heat and life depend on him, and should he be extinct all would die. Thus, may it not be with God the Father; God the eternal and unchanging essence - the fountain of all light, and life in the universe. In the sun there is also the “manifestation” - the shining - the glorious light. The brightness which we see emanates from that - emanates at once, continually, always. While the sun exists, that exists, and cannot be separated from it. By that brightness the sun is seen; by that the world is enlightened. Without these beams there would be no light, but all would be involved in darkness. What a beautiful representation of the Son of God - the brightness of the divine glory; the medium by which God is made known; the source of light to man, and for anything we know, to the universe! When he shines upon people, there is light when he does not shine, there is as certain moral darkness as there is night when the sun sinks in the west.

And for aught we can see, the manifestation which the Son of God makes may be as necessary in all worlds to a proper contemplation of the divine essence, as the beams of the sun are to understand its nature. Then there are the warmth and heat and vivifying influences of the sun - an influence which is the source of life and beauty to the material world. It is not the mere shining - it is the attendant warmth and vivifying power. All nature is dependent on it. Each seed, and bud, and leaf, and flower; each spire of grass, and each animal on earth, and each bird on the wing, is dependent on it. Without that, vegetation would decay at once, and animal life would be extinct, and universal death would reign. What a beautiful illustration of the Holy Spirit, and of his influences on the moral world! “The Lord God is a Sun” Psalm 84:11; and I do not see that it is improper thus to derive from the sun an illustration of the doctrine of the Trinity. I am certain we should know nothing of the sun but for the beams that reveal him, and that enlighten the world; and I am certain that all animal and vegetable life would die if it were not for his vivifying and quickening rays. I do not see that it may not be equally probable that the nature - the essence of God would be unknown were it not manifested by the Son of God; and I am certain that all moral and spiritual life would die were it not for the quickening and vivifying influences of the Holy Spirit on the human soul.

4. Christ has made an atonement for sin; Hebrews 1:3. He has done it by “himself.” It was not by the blood of bulls and of goats; it was by his own blood. Let us rejoice that we have not now to come before God with a bloody offering; that we need not come leading up a lamb to be slain, but that we may come confiding in that blood which has been shed for the sins of mankind. The great sacrifice has been made. The victim is slain. The blood has been offered which expiates the sin of the world. We may now come at once to the throne of grace, and plead the merits of that blood. How different is our condition from that of the ancient Jewish worshippers! They were required to come leading the victim that was to be slain for sin, and to do this every year and every day. We may come with the feeling that the one great sacrifice has been made for us; that it is never to be repeated, and that in that sacrifice there is merit sufficient to cancel all our sins. How different our condition from that of the pagan! They too lead up sacrifices to be slain on bloody altars. They offer lambs, and goats, and bullocks, and captives taken in war, and slaves, and even their own children! But amidst these horrid offerings, while they show their deep conviction that some sacrifice is necessary, they have no promise - no evidence whatever, that the sacrifice will be accepted. They go away unpardoned. They repeat the offering with no evidence that their sins are forgiven, and at last they die in despair! We come assured that the “blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin,” and the soul rejoices in the evidence that all past sins are forgiven, and is at peace with God.

5. Let us rejoice that the Lord Jesus is thus exalted to the right hand of God; Hebrews 1:3-4. He has gone into heaven. He is seated on the throne of glory. He has suffered the last pang, and shed the last drop of blood that will ever be necessary to be shed for the sins of the world. No cold tomb is again to hold him; and no spear of a soldier is again to enter his side. He is now happy and glorious in heaven. The angels there render him homage Hebrews 1:6, and the universe is placed under his control.

6. It is right to worship the Lord Jesus. When he came into the world the angels were required to do it Hebrews 1:6, and it cannot be wrong for us to do it now. If the angels in heaven might properly worship him, we may. If they worshipped him, he is divine. Assuredly, God would not require them to worship a fellow-angel or a man! I feel safe in adoring where angels adore; I do not feel that I have a right to withhold my homage where they have been required to render theirs.

7. It is right to address the Lord Jesus as God; Hebrews 1:8. If he is so addressed in the language of inspiration, it is not improper for us so to address him. We do not err when we adhere closely to the language of the Bible; nor can we have a stronger evidence that we are right than that we express our sentiments and our devotions in the very language of the sacred Scriptures.

8. The kingdom of the Redeemer is a righteous kingdom. It is founded in equity; Hebrews 1:8-9. Other kingdoms have been kingdoms of cruelty, oppression, and blood. Tyrants have swayed an iron scepter over people. But not thus with the Redeemer in his kingdom. There is not a law there which is not equal and mild; not a statute which it would not promote the temporal and eternal welfare of man to obey. Happy is the man that is wholly under his scepter; happy the kingdom that yields entire obedience to his laws!

9. The heavens shall perish; the earth shall decay; Hebrews 1:10-11. Great changes have already taken place in the earth - as the researches of geologists show; and we have no reason to doubt that similar changes may have occurred in distant worlds. Still greater changes may be expected to occur in future times, and some of them we may be called to witness. Our souls are to exist forever; and far on in future ages - far beyond the utmost period which we can now compute - we may witness most important changes in these heavens and this earth. God may display his power in a manner which has never been seen yet; and safe near his throne his people may be permitted to behold the exhibition of power of which the mind has never yet had the remotest conception.

10. Yet amidst these changes, the Saviour will be the same; Hebrews 1:12. He changes not. In all past revolutions, he has been the same. In all the changes which have occurred in the physical world, he has been unchanged; in all the revolutions which have occurred among kingdoms, he has been unmoved. One change succeeds another; kingdoms rise and fall and empires waste away; one generation goes off to be succeeded by another, but he remains the same. No matter what tempests howl, or how wars rage, or how the pestilence spreads abroad, or how the earth is shaken by earthquakes, still the Redeemer is the same. And no matter what are our external changes, he is the same. We pass from childhood to youth, to manhood, to old age, but he changes not. We are in prosperity or adversity; we may pass from affluence to poverty, from honor to dishonor, from health to sickness, but he is the same.

We may go and lie down in the cold tomb, and our mortal frames may decay, but he is the same during our long sleep, and he will remain the same till he shall return and summon us to renovated life. I rejoice that in all the circumstances of life I have the same Saviour. I know what he is. I know, if the expression may be allowed, “where he may be found.” Man may change by caprice, or whim, or by some new suggestion of interest, of passion, or ambition. I go to my friend today, and find him kind and true - but I have no absolute certainty that I shall find him such tomorrow. His feelings, from some unknown cause, may have become cold toward me. Some enemy may have breathed suspicion into his ear about me, or he may have formed some stronger attachment, or he may be sick, or dead. But nothing like this can happen in regard to the Redeemer. He changes not. I am sure that he is always the same. No one can influence him by slander; no new friendship can weaken the old; no sickness or death can occur to him to change him; and though the heavens be on fire, and the earth be convulsed, he is the same. In such a Saviour I may confide; in such a friend why should not all confide? Of earthly attachments it has been too truly said:

“And what is friendship but a name,

A charm that lulls to sleep;

A shade that follows wealth or fame,

But leaves the wretch to weep?”

But this can never be said of the attachment formed between the Christian and their gracious Redeemer. That is unaffected by all external changes; that shall live in all the revolutions of material things, and when all earthly ties shall be severed; that shall survive the dissolution of all things.

11. We see the dignity of man; Hebrews 1:13-14. Angels are sent to be his attendants. They come to minister to him here, and to conduct him home “to glory.” Kings and princes are surrounded by armed men, or by sages called to be their counselors; but the most humble saint may be encompassed by a retinue of beings of far greater power and more elevated rank. The angels of light and glory feel a deep interest in the salvation of people. They come to attend the redeemed; they wait on their steps; they sustain them in trial; they accompany them when departing to heaven. It is a higher honor to be attended by one of those pure intelligences than by the most elevated monarch that ever swayed a scepter or wore a crown; and the humblest and obscurest Christian shall soon be himself conducted to a throne in heaven, compared with which the most splendid seat of royalty on earth loses its luster and fades away:

“And is there care in heaven? and is there love.

In heavenly spirits to these creatures base,

That may compassion of their evils move?

There is: else much more wretched were the case.

Of men than beasts; But O! th‘ exceeding grace.

Of Highest God that loves his creatures so,

And all his works of mercy doth embrace,

That blessed angels he sends to and fro,

To serve to wicked man, to serve his wicked foe!

“How oft do they their silver bowers leave,

To come to succour us that succour want!

How do they with golden pinions cleave.

The yielding skies, like flying pursuivant.

Against foul fiends to aid us militant!

They for us fight, they watch and duly ward,

And their bright squadrons round about us plant;

And all for love and nothing for reward;

O why should Heavenly God to men have such regard!”

“Spenser‘s Faery Queen,” B. II. Canto Hebrews 8:1, Hebrews 8:2.

12. What has God done for the salvation of man! He formed an eternal plan. He sent his prophets to communicate his will. He sent his Son to bear a message of mercy, and to die the just for the unjust. He exalted him to heaven, and placed the universe under his control that man may be saved. He sent his Holy Spirit; his ministers and messengers for this. And last, to complete the work, he sends his angels to be ministering spirits; to sustain his people; to comfort them in dying; to attend them to the realms of glory. What an interest is felt in the salvation of a single Christian! What a value he has in the universe! And how important it is that he should be holy! A man who has been redeemed by the blood of the Son of God should be pure. He who is an heir of life should be holy. He who is attended by celestial beings, and who is soon - he knows not “how” soon - to be transported to heaven, should be holy. Are angels my attendants? Then I should walk worthy of my companionship. Am I soon to go and dwell with angels? Then I should be pure. Are these feet soon to tread the courts of heaven? Is this tongue soon to unite with heavenly beings in praising God? Are these eyes soon to look on the throne of eternal glory, and on the ascended Redeemer? Then these feet, and eyes, and lips should be pure and holy, and I should be dead to the world, and should live only for heaven.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/hebrews-1.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation?

The angels have the nature of servants, or "ministers," as stated here, and thus must ever be accounted inferior to Jesus our Lord; despite this, however, those shining creatures of the unseen world possess a magnificence beyond our imagination; and the service they give to God and their activities on behalf of the saints, so mysteriously mentioned here, are matters of surpassing interest and curiosity. Salvation appears in this verse, not as something people may earn, but as a blessing they shall "inherit," thus corresponding with the same view prevalent throughout the New Testament.

CONCERNING ANGELS

In view of the attention lavished in this chapter upon angels and their place in the economy of redemption, it is considered appropriate to set forth some of the basic scriptural teachings concerning them. They are innumerable (Hebrews 12:22); and from such impressions as may be gathered from our Saviour's reference to "legions of angels" (Matthew 26:53) and the use of words like "archangel" (Jude 1:1:1:9), as well as from our Lord's making angels of little children to be of the highest rank in heaven (Matthew 18:10), it is inferred that the angelic host are an organized company, or kingdom; and it is possibly from the nature of such an organization that the various words like "seraphim," "cherubim," and "archangel" have been derived, these terms standing for the several ranks or powers of the angelic company.

The intimate connection of the angels with the affairs of the kingdom of God is seen in the rejoicing of angels over one sinner that repents (Luke 15:7) and in the promise of Christ to confess his followers before God and his holy angels Mark 8:38). The angels attended Christ's earthly mission, announced his conception and his birth, strengthened him in Gethsemane, awaited his call during the passion, rolled away the stone from his grave, announced his resurrection, and escorted him to glory. In the second advent, Christ will appear with ten thousand angels (perhaps a symbolical number for an infinite host) (2 Thessalonians 1:7); and to those angels of his power shall be assigned the task of separating the precious from the vile (Matthew 13:41,49). The love of angels for people, though incapable of comparison with the love of Christ for people, is nevertheless a valid assumption from the above premises; and the loving regard of angels stands as an effective foil of the hatred engendered against people by Satan and his angels.

The verse before us is a flat declaration that angels perform services for them that shall inherit eternal life; and a fair inquiry is, "What services?" The scriptures reveal the following kinds of services performed on behalf of people by the angels of God: (1) They bear away the souls of the righteous in death (Luke 16:22), as in the case of Lazarus. (2) They oppose purposes and designs of Satan, not in their own names, but in the name of the Lord (Jude 1:1:1:6). (3) They execute the punitive judgments of God upon the incorrigibly wicked, as in the case of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:35) and that of Herod (Acts 12:23). (4) They exert influence over the rulers and governments of nations, as in the case of Persia (Daniel 10:20). (5) They aid providentially in bringing the unsaved to hear the redeeming words of the gospel, as in the case of Cornelius (Acts 10:3). (6) They exercise solicitous care over little children, as shown by Jesus' words (Matthew 18:10). (7) They are actively employed in maintaining free course and availability of the word of God, as indicated by a mighty angel's holding in his hand "a little book" open (Revelation 10), a book which must certainly be hailed as the New Testament.

People can know nothing of angels except what God has revealed through the Bible; and, even from the Bible, it is possible to make incorrect deductions; but some things are definitely clear. There are countless millions of angels whom God created to perform his will throughout a vast theater of operations, cosmic in dimensions, with particular emphasis upon those matters that concern the salvation of people. Great as the privileges of angels appear to be, it would seem that there are two prerogatives not given them. It is not recorded that any of them ever preached the gospel, nor is it indicated that they have the power to reproduce themselves. Worshipping of the angels is forbidden (Colossians 1:18); and they have no mediatorial function between God and man, that position being reserved to Christ alone (1 Timothy 2:5).


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/hebrews-1.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Are they not all ministering spirits,.... Servants to God, to Christ, and to his people, and therefore must be inferior to the Son of God. The phrase is Rabbinical; frequent mention is made in Jewish writingsF1T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 12. 2. & 14. 1,2. & 16. 1. Taanith, fol. 11. 1. & Megilia, fol. 15. 2. & in Zohar passim. of מלאכי השרת, "the angels of ministry", or "the ministering angels"; this is their common appellation with the Jews; and the apostle writing to such, uses a like phrase, well known to them, and appeals to them, if the angels were not such spirits.

Sent forth to minister for them who shall be the heirs of salvation? the persons they minister to, and for, are those, who shall be the heirs of salvation; that is, of eternal glory, which will be possessed by the saints, as an inheritance: hence it belongs to children, being bequeathed to them by their Father, and comes to them through the death of Christ, of which the Spirit is the earnest; and this shows that it is not of works, and that it is of an eternal duration, and takes in all kind of happiness: and of this the saints are heirs now; and so the Ethiopic version renders it, "who are heirs of salvation"; nor should it be rendered, "who shall be heirs", but rather, "who shall inherit salvation"; for this character respects not their heirship, but their actual inheriting of salvation: and the ministry of angels to, and for them, lies in things temporal and spiritual, or what concern both their bodies and their souls; in things temporal, in which they have often been assisting, as in providing food for their bodies, in curing their diseases, in directing and preserving them in journeys, in saving and delivering them from outward calamities, in restraining things hurtful from hurting them, and in destroying their enemies; in things spiritual, as in making known the mind and will of God to them, in comforting them, and suggesting good things to them, and in helping and assisting them against Satan's temptations; and they are present with their departing souls at death, and carry them to heaven, and will gather the elect together at the last day. And they are "sent forth" to minister to them in such a way; they are sent forth by Christ, the Lord and Creator of them, who therefore must be superior to them; they do not take this office upon themselves, though, being put into they faithfully and diligently execute it, according to the will of Christ: and this shows the care of Christ over his people, and his kindness to them, and the great honour he puts upon them, to appoint such to minister to them; and since they are of so much use and service, they ought to be respected and esteemed, though not worshipped.


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/hebrews-1.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Are they not all x ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

(x) By that name by which we commonly call princes messengers, he here calls the spirits.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/hebrews-1.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

ministers.” They are incorporeal spirits, as God is, but ministering to Him as inferiors.

sent forth — present participle: “being sent forth” continually, as their regular service in all ages.

to ministerGreek, “unto (that is, ‹for‘) ministry.”

for themGreek,on account of the.” Angels are sent forth on ministrations to God and Christ, not primarily to men, though for the good of “those who are about to inherit salvation” (so the Greek): the elect, who believe, or shall believe, for whom all things, angels included, work together for good (Romans 8:28). Angels‘ ministrations are not properly rendered to men, since the latter have no power of commanding them, though their ministrations to God are often directed to the good of men. So the superiority of the Son of God to angels is shown. They “all,” how ever various their ranks, “minister”; He is ministered to. They “stand” (Luke 1:19) before God, or are “sent forth” to execute the divine commands on behalf of them whom He pleases to save; He “sits on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 1:13). He rules; they serve.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/hebrews-1.html. 1871-8.

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

14. This verse reveals angelic ministry. When they interviewed our Savior relative to the woman who had survived her seventh husband, as to whose wile she should be in the resurrection, He responded: “In that day there will neither be marrying nor giving in marriage, but all will be as the angels of God.” The Greek says isoi anggeloi, which means “like the angels” or “equal to the angels.” This statement of our Savior reveals the fact that glorification confers angelic perfection, while sanctification effects Christian perfection. Justification saves us from guilt; sanctification saves us from depravity, while glorification saves us from infirmity, and the resurrection saves us from mortality. The fact that at glorification we receive angelic perfection certainly recognizes in us a near kinship to the angels. Perhaps this is the reason why the angels have always taken a pre- eminent interest in the human race. They were present in the creation, and made the heavens roar with triumphant shouts of joyful approval. They brightened the firmament of Eden with the splendor of their pinions, serving Adam and Eve as guardians. When humanity collapsed under Satan’s invasion they flew up to heaven, heralding the mournful tidings which filled heaven with lugubrious wailings, while golden harps were suspended on weeping willows. Thus all heaven became a Bochim of weeping over the sad ruins of our world, till the Son of God proclaimed His heroic espousal of the lost cause, to the unutterable astonishment of all the heavenly host. Then swift angel couriers flew down to the bottomless pit, and then and there proclaimed Immanuel’s philanthropic intervention in behalf of the ruined race. Never before was hell so racked with astonishment and appalled with consternation. The angels not only proclaimed the conception of the Incarnate God, but heralded to the shepherds His birth in Bethlehem. They came down and rolled the stone from the sepulcher, proclaiming to the women their risen Lord. Myriads of angels belt this world night and day. Serving as our faithful guardians, they protect us from thousands of unseen perils. The moment we evacuate these bodies we see them, faithful to their trust, standing by us, conversing with us about heavenly glories, and serving as our faithful escorts up to the celestial city.


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Bibliography
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/hebrews-1.html.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Ministering spirits (λειτουργικα πνευματαleitourgika pneumata). Thayer says that λειτουργικοςleitourgikos was not found in profane authors, but it occurs in the papyri for “work tax” (money in place of service) and for religious service also. The word is made from λειτουργιαleitourgia (Luke 1:23; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:21).

Sent forth (αποστελλομεναapostellomena). Present passive participle of αποστελλωapostellō sent forth repeatedly, from time to time as occasion requires.

For the sake of
(διαdia). With the accusative, the usual causal meaning of διαdia

That shall inherit
(τους μελλοντας κληρονομεινtous mellontas klēronomein). “That are going to inherit,” common idiom of μελλωmellō (present active participle) with the infinitive (present active here), “destined to inherit” (Matthew 11:14).

Salvation
(σωτηριανsōtērian). Here used of the final salvation in its consummation. Only here in the N.T. do we have “inherent salvation,” but see Hebrews 6:12; Hebrews 12:17. We do not have here the doctrine of special guardian angels for each of us, but simply the fact that angels are used for our good. “And if so, may we not be aided, inspired, guided by a cloud of witnesses - not witnesses only, but helpers, agents like ourselves of the immanent God?” (Sir Oliver Lodge, The Hibbert Journal, Jan., 1903, p. 223).


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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/hebrews-1.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Ministering spirits ( λειτουργικὰ πνεύματα )

Summing up the function of the angels as compared with Christ. Christ's is the highest dignity. He is co-ruler with God. The angels are servants appointed for service to God for the sake of ( διὰ ) the heirs of redemption. Λειτουργικὰ ministeringN.T.oSee on ministers, Hebrews 1:7.


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Bibliography
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/hebrews-1.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Are they not all — Though of various orders.

Ministering spirits, sent forth — Ministering before God, sent forth to men.

To attend on them — In numerous offices of protection, care, and kindness.

Who — Having patiently continued in welldoing, shall inherit everlasting salvation.


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/hebrews-1.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Ministering spirits; that is, are not they (the angels) instead of being like the Son, at the head of the kingdom, only ministering spirits, employed altogether in executing a superior's commands?


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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/hebrews-1.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

14.Are they not all, etc. That the comparison might appear more clearly, he now mentions what the condition of angels is. For calling them spirits, he denotes their eminence; for in this respect they are superior to corporal creatures. But the office ( λειτουργία) which he immediately mentions reduces them to their own rank, as it is that which is the reverse of dominion; and this he still more distinctly states, when he says, that they are sent to minister. The first word means the same, as though ale had said, that they were officials; but to minister imports what is more humble and abject. (27) The service which God allots to angels is indeed honorable; but the very fact that they serve, shows that they are far inferior to Christ, who is the Lord of all.

If any one objects and says, that Christ is also called in many places both a servant and a minister, not only to God, but also to men, the reply may be readily given; his being a servant was not owing to his nature, but to a voluntary humility, as Paul testifies, (Philippians 2:7;) and at the same time his sovereignty remained to his nature; but angels, on the other hand, were created for this end, — that they might serve, and to minister is what belongs to their condition. The difference then is great; for what is natural to them is, as it were, adventitious or accidental to Christ, because he took our flesh; and what necessarily belongs to them, he of his own accord undertook. Besides, Christ is a minister in such a way, that though he is in our flesh nothing is diminished from the majesty of his dominion. (28)

From this passage the faithful receive no small consolation; for they hear that celestial hosts are assigned to them as ministers, in order to secure their salvation. It is indeed no common pledge of God’s love towards us, that they are continually engaged in our behalf. Hence also proceeds a singular confirmation to our faith, that our salvation being defended by such guardians, is beyond the reach of danger. Well then has God provided for our infirmities by giving us such assistants to oppose Satan, and to put forth their power in every way to defend us!

But this benefit he grants especially to his chosen people; hence that angels may minister to us, we must be the members of Christ. Yet some testimonies of Scripture may on the other hand be adduced, to show that angels are sometimes sent forth for the sake of the reprobate; for mention is made by Daniel of the angels of the Persians and the Greeks. (Daniel 10:20.) But to this I answer, that they were in such a way assisted by angels, that the Lord might thus promote the salvation of his own people; for their success and their victories had always a reference to the benefit of the Church. This is certain, that as we have been banished by sin from God’s kingdom, we can have no communion with angels except through the reconciliation made by Christ; and this we may see by the ladder shown in a vision to the patriarch Jacob.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/hebrews-1.html. 1840-57.

William Newell's Commentary on Romans and Revelation

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation?

What a ministry for the "angels of His power," the "mighty in strength"! To them, service is a delight. The thought of a seat above others--to "be as the Most High" indeed entered the heart of the "anointed cherub" (who is now Satan), the Adversary. But it is farthest from the imagination of "the elect angels." Even to little children these love to belong, as "their angels," always "beholding the face of the Father," in their interest. They fulfill God's word, hearkening unto the voice of His word (Ps. 103:20), and His word at present is that they shall serve creatures beneath them, them that shall inherit salvation,*- with a humble fulfillment of this ministry that we should meditate upon. God will duly reward it.

Ministration-Salvation: In these two words appears the measureless difference between angels and the redeemed. Michael, the archangel, is seen in Dan. 10 and 12 sent to instruct that prophet. Gabriel, who "stands before God," was sent to Zacharias to announce the birth of John the Baptist, and to the virgin Mary, foretelling Christ's birth. All angels are seen in such "service."

But as for them that shall inherit salvation, these (although in themselves sinners, such as the angels were preserved from being) are made objects of value, worth and dignity, only to be measured by the infinite price paid in their redemption, and by the place God assigns them--to be directly connected with His own person and glory in Christ, forever!

So the first chapter of Hebrews sets forth the Son, "having made propitiation of sins," and having "sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High," as "having become by so much better than the angels as He hath inherited a more excellent name than they," as we have seen. But they that shall inherit salvation--those sons He brings to glory--are so absolutely connected with Him that it is written, "He that sanctifieth and, they that are sanctified are all of one."

You may say the question in verse 13 was, What angel did God ever command to sit at His right hand till He made his enemies his footstool? True, there was no such angel, as we know. But we desire to emphasize, at the close of this first chapter: First, that believers are inheritors of salvation--what a heritage! And second, that such "heirs of God" are constantly being served by heaven-sent angels! But remember always the great word of this first chapter--that God's Son is Heir of all things--God, Lord, Creator and Upholder of all things!


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Bibliography
Newell, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". William Newell's Commentary on Romans, Hebrews and Revelation. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wnc/hebrews-1.html. 1938.

Scofield's Reference Notes

salvation

(See Scofield "Romans 1:16").


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Bibliography
Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Hebrews 1:14". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/hebrews-1.html. 1917.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE MINISTRY OF ANGELS

‘Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?’

Hebrews 1:14

The word translated ministering is a strictly liturgical one. It means a service of prayer and praise and thanksgiving, and one which the angels render for or rather on behalf of heirs of salvation. All good Christians are heirs of salvation, so the angels are ministering before God on their behalf.

I. What the angels are doing in heaven.—They are offering to God a service of prayer and praise and thanksgiving, not for themselves, but for us, though they share with us in it.

(a) When God’s creation was finished, when He pronounced everything to be very good, then ‘all the sons of God shouted for joy.’ Those sons of God were the angels.

(b) When God would bring in the New Creation by the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, ‘a multitude of the heavenly host’ were seen and heard.

(c) At the last grand triumph, when ‘the kingdoms of this world shall have become the kingdoms of God and of His Christ,’ ‘all the angels stood round about the throne.’

(d) Elsewhere we read of angels with golden harps and vials or censers full of incense which they are offering, and this incense is the prayer of saints.

(e) And so in our Communion Office, words which are, I suppose, in every service, or liturgy as it is called, in all times and places we sing or say: ‘Therefore with angels and archangels,’ etc.

II. What they are doing on earth.—What have they done! Jacob saw them ascending and descending on the ladder which reached to heaven, and what that ladder is St. John tells.

Time would fail me to tell of the ministrations of the angels as they are set down in the Bible. ‘The angel of the Lord encampeth round them that fear Him.’ ‘He shall give His angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways.’

(a) They ministered to our Lard in His agony in the garden as they had done before in the wilderness after the devil left Him.

(b) They brought St. Peter out of prison.

(c) God sent an angel to St. Paul to assure him of the safety of himself and all who were with him in the ship during his perilous journey to Rome.

(d) Further, we are assured that there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

(e) The angels of little children always behold the face of our Father in heaven.

(f) The angels carry the souls of the faithful into Paradise.

(g) They will finally sever the just from the unjust.

III. There is an order of heavenly beings in the more immediate presence of God who are ever doing Him a ceaseless service of prayers and praises and thanksgivings, and in obedience to His will they are ready to succour and defend us on earth.

(a) They are great in power, for they are the mighty angels who excel in strength.

(b) They are vast in number, for the chariots of God are thousands of angels. There are multitudes of the heavenly hosts. There is an innumerable company of angels.

(c) They are holy, for they do always behold the face of our Father in heaven.

(d) They are divided into ranks and degrees, for there are angels, archangels, thrones, authorities, dominions, mights, powers, seraphim, and cherubim.

(e) They have their rulers all with names, having reference to God—Ithiel, Uriel, Gabriel, and Michael.

(f) They have passed, as we are passing, through a moral trial, for some are the elect and some the fallen angels, the angels which kept not their first estate.

(g) They take part in the great struggle between good and evil; for there was war in heaven, in other words, in the spiritual and moral world.

Illustration

‘Go where he may, the servant of God ever finds the angel of the Lord round about them that fear Him. More than two hundred times angels are mentioned in Holy Scripture; and though no poor widow devoutly reading God’s Word in her cottage, no nation crying to God in famine or distress, sees their visible forms haunting our paths and homes now; yet faith—which appropriates God’s promise—faith, the evidence of things unseen, whispers to the humble believer, these ministering spirits have not ceased to exist, neither are they shut up in enforced idleness.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

THE ANGELS AS A MEANS OF GRACE

That God has given to us in the holy angels a great means of grace we cannot afford to ignore.

I. The ministry of angels.—I would ask you to think whether the angels are not designed to have great power over us. There is always somebody who thinks well of us, and hopes well for us, and if we do not care much about ourselves (not well enough to do or be our best for very long together) that fact may always serve to consecrate us afresh. Now if we can once get it into our minds and imaginations that the angels think well of us, always see the best of us, always grieve for anything that is less than the best for us, that the angels are always thinking the best for us, and working the best for us, there is a whole world of consecration in the realisation of this thought. They, at any rate, are good! They, at any rate, are beautiful! They, at any rate, are gifted beyond anything of which human gifts enable us to dream. They, at any rate, are loyal to God and near to God; always beholding His face and always working on our behalf. Even a lonely soul on earth is unable to say, ‘No man careth for my soul.’

II. God’s messengers.—How wonderful to think of the angels always observing the Father’s face with such understanding of every shade of expression of it; always able to catch the Father’s will for the salvation of some poor wayward child of His on earth. It makes all life different if we try to learn about, and to put into practical use, our belief in such things as these. They are worth thinking about; they are based upon what is revealed!

III. Treasures of God’s love.—The Bible will help us to work out more and more the problems which God has brought within our reach, and within the sphere of our experience if we choose to read and pray and to work and believe about them. On the other hand, if we shut our eyes to all these mysterious truths what is life for? Do not let it go on until it is too late! Why should we miss, and go on missing, these treasures of God’s love? From to-day let us just register the fact that God is reminding us that this is irreparably lost for those who have no eye open to the glory of the angels, and no ear open to the wisdom of the angels, and no willing response to the loyalty of the angels, and no co-operation with the ministry of the angels. God grant us power to awake to the full sense of the worth of this great means of grace.

Rev. E. S. Hilliard.

Illustration

‘The attitude of the average Christian towards the angels is usually that of indifference. They do not much care whether they exist or not! They do not take their Bibles to find out the facts God has told them about the angels. They take little or no pains to establish relations with them, they are careless about the blessings which God intends to send us through them. So the Church, trying to rescue us from our persistent blindness, has established this festival of St. Michael and All Angels’ Day, and it should act as a reminder of their ministry to us.’


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Bibliography
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". Church Pulpit Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/hebrews-1.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Ver. 14. Are they not] See nly Common-place of Angels.

Sent forth to minister, &c.] The saints are the spouse, the bride, yea, the members of Christ; and so in nearer union than angels or any creature. This the devil envied, and fell from his station.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/hebrews-1.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Hebrews 1:14

Ministry of Angels.

I. The angels are ministering, i.e. worshipping, spirits; beings engaged in the perpetual liturgy of the glorious temple above. That temple has never wanted its worshippers. The solemn anthem of praise has never been silent there. It has not been broken and marred by sin. But in the next place, as there is a worship of angels above, so there is a ministry of angels in the world. Cardinal Newman has gone so far as to suppose that the whole visible creation is carried on in its minutest details by their agency. He would have us believe that there is not a flower, nor a ray of light, but conceals some spirit form, which gives it its lustre and its beauty. Every breath of air, and ray of light and heat, every beautiful prospect is, as it were, the waving of the robes of those whose faces see God in heaven.

We need not, however, accept such a hypothesis as this. It is too fanciful, and it is not really supported by Scripture; for the representation of the Psalmist, "Who maketh His angels winds," etc., does not really amount to more than this, that God gives His angels the swiftness, and the strength, and the invisibility of the winds, that He clothes His ministers with the all-pervading subtlety of fire. He thus employs them as His agents in carrying out His purposes in the world.

II. And what are these purposes? What has Holy Scripture taught us concerning the offices of angels? (1) First of all, they are represented as deeply interested in the work of human salvation. The mystery of redeeming love fixes their entranced and ardent gaze. They stoop down, as it were, from the golden battlements of heaven, seeking, if it may be, to fathom that love, "the length and breadth, the depth and height of the love that passeth knowledge." The angels, though of spiritual and not of fleshly nature, can sympathise with our low estate, can rejoice in God's good will towards us. And hence, no doubt, it is that He declares those who confess Him before men, He will confess before the angels of God. (2) And we see a further proof of this, their relation to us, in their attendance upon our Lord in His earthly life. They came to Him as comforters and helpers of His human nature. When He died angels guarded His tomb, and were witnesses of His resurrection. And we know that when He comes again He will come in the glory of His Father and of the holy angels, and that the trumpet of the archangel shall awake the dead. (3) As it was with His human life so it is with ours. The example of the angels teaches us (a) the blessedness of a willing obedience, (b) a lesson of sympathy for those beneath us. Do not let us plead any difference of rank, or knowledge or power, in excuse of our neglect of one of the least of our brethen made like us in the image of God.

Bishop Perowne, Sermons, p. 224.


Angelic Ministry.

The oblivion of great truths is sometimes the reaction of grievous errors. The man-worship of the Church of Rome has nearly obliterated from our calendar the name most conspicuous in New Testament female biography; and in the same way, in our protest against the angel-intercessors of angelic idols of popery, we are in danger of forgetting the existence or denying the ministry of angels altogether. Now creature-worship is bad, whether that creature be a man or an angel. But although, like all loyal subjects, angels desire to concentrate on their eternal King the worship of the universe, and although they refuse to usurp the place of the one Mediator, in their nature, their functions and their history, there is much to elevate our thoughts, and to reward our affectionate contemplation.

II. It is pleasant to think that there are beings created and intelligent, who have kept their first state amidst the decay of earthly beauty and of earthly goodness; it is a joy to remember that there is a created beauty which has never dimmed; a created love which has never known a chill; a created loyalty which has never received a shock, or been seen to falter. Amidst our slowness and stupidity it is pleasant to remember that God has servants who understand all His will, and who can execute each fiat; angels who fly swift as wind, and who, for ready apprehension and ever-burning ardour, are flames of fire. With our felt weakness and unworthiness, it is affecting to know that these angels, so swift, so strong, so holy, minister to the heirs of salvation. Nor is it without solemnity to remember that much, if not all, of our conduct is open to the observation of angels. And although it might well be restraint of the incentive sufficient to remember, "Thou God seest me," we may find an occasional restorative to our sinking spirits, and a useful proof to our faltering resolution, in remembering that we are seen of angels also.

J.Hamilton, Works, vol. vi., p. 311.


References: Hebrews 1:14.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 277; R. L. Browne, Sussex Sermons, p. 255; Homilist,. vol. iv., p. 165; Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxiv., p. 255.

The Ministry of Angels.

I. As to the existence of angels, the fact confronts us that there are such beings, above man in gradation, superior to man in mental and moral endowments, waiting upon God in the upper sanctuary, and obedient to His will. The belief in such existences can claim the highest antiquity. A few cavilling Sadducees raised a doubt about it; but as to others, the Jews believed it, Gentiles believed it, and in the sense of some tutelar genius over particular localities and provinces, the notion had a place in the creed of the whole heathen world.

II. What is our revealed knowledge concerning the angels? (1) Of the dignities and capacities of angels, Scripture gives us everywhere the most exalted ideas. (2) Their wisdom also is great. (3) They have made mighty advances in the sanctity and purity of the heavenly state. They are the elect, the everlasting chosen ones of God, confirmed in their state of blessedness in heaven, to go no more out, but ever loving and ever delighting to exalt His name.

III. What is the source of the interest which the angels take in us? (1) One reason is to be found in their general sympathy with Christ's work, and with the success of His mission in the hearts of men, as that which was to bring an access of numbers to their own blessed society, and magnify the power and grace of Him who was at once their Lord and ours. (2) Again, this pleasure of angels in ministering to us may arise in some degree from their superior knowledge of what man's place in the universe of God is, and how he ranks in the varied orders of created existence. (3) Know that Christ makes all things one. All diverging lines, whether of earthly condition, or diverse economies, or separated ages of the world, of this mansion or that, in the rest of paradise, and this task or that in the countless hierarchies of heaven, are all brought up into, and meet in this centre. The most exalted seraph draws the breath of his immortality from Christ, just as much as the newly departed infant whom he folds in his wing to lay in the bosom of Jesus, as privileged heir of salvation, gathered early from the toils of time.

D. Moore, Penny Pulpit, No. 3273.


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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/hebrews-1.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Hebrews 1:14. Are they not all ministering spirits "I asked, To which of the angels said God at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?"—And Iam well satisfied that no passage can be alleged wherein God is ever represented as using such language to, or concerning any of them. The description given of them is of a very different nature; and, instead of being set out as exalted to such a high state of dignity and authority, as sitting at God's right hand; they are represented as ministering spirits, whose proper posture is standing, and not sitting. See 1 Kings 22:19. Zechariah 5:7; Zechariah 4:14; Zechariah 6:5. The verse may be thus paraphrased: "The spirits of heaven expect no such honour as this: the noblest of them all esteems himself happy in an opportunity of worshipping this triumphant Lord, and ministering even to the least of his servants. Is it not a known and delightful truth? are they not indeed all ministering spirits, who officiate before the throne of God, and are sent out to attend on all the faithful saints of God, who shall inherit salvation? and always willing to undertake the offices that he shall assign them for the safety and good of his faithful people? and therefore, far from thinking them in any view of comparison with him, let us humbly adore him, for the benefits which by his authority and favour we daily receive from these benevolent creatures." By the phrase, Who shall be heirs of salvation, several commentators suppose that the sacred writer has a particular reference to the Gentiles, who were to be made fellow-heirs with the Jews, and partakers of the promise in Christ by the Gospel. See Ephesians 3:6.

Inferences.—With what satisfaction may we depend upon the divine authority of both the Old and New Testament! God, who formerly spake to the fathers by the prophets, now speaks to us by his Son; he began and gradually carried on various revelations at different times, in distinct parcels, and by several ways and means, which we have an account of in the Old Testament, till he completed them in the New. How thankful should we be that our lot is cast under the gospel dispensation! This is the clearest, the fullest, the best, and last discovery of the mind and will of God, that is to be expected in our world. And how glorious is the representation that it gives us of Christ in his divine nature and mediatorial office! He is essentially the same God with the Father, and yet personally distinct from him, as the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and is his eternal only-begotten Son; he is the Creator of heaven and earth, and all things contained therein, and upholds them by the word of his power: and in his office-capacity he is the appointed Heir of all things, in and by whom the faithful inherit the blessings of grace and glory. He is now exalted on his throne, with the highest dignity and honour, at the Father's right hand; his throne is for ever and ever; he is infinitely pure and spotless in himself, and righteous in all the administrations of his kingdom; he is fully invested with all authority above whatever was or shall be conferred on any prophet, priest or king, saint or angel; and at the last day he, who is the unchangeable God, will put an end to the present frame of this world, and change it into another, that will be inexpressibly more excellent and glorious. How safe and happy then are the saints under his care! And what an honour has he put upon them, in assuming their nature, and exalting it in union with his own divine Person in heaven, and in ordering all the holy angels to minister to them! O, with what solemnity and joy should they join with these celestial spirits in paying all religious adorations to him! And how dead should their hearts be to this perishing world and all its concerns, which wax old, and shall be laid aside like an useless worn-out garment!

REFLECTIONS.—The excellence of the gospel dispensation above the Mosaical opens this beautiful epistle. The apostle shews:

1. The different way in which God has communicated his will to the church of old, and to his people at present. God, who at sundry times, by degrees, with increasing clearness, and in divers manners, by types, visions, dreams, and audible voices, and immediate inspiration, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days, at the close of the Jewish oeconomy, and in that dispensation of grace, which is the last that will be ever vouchsafed to the sons of men, and under this title of the last days has been foretold by the inspired penman,—God hath, I say, now spoken unto us by his Son, the most glorious messenger that was ever yet employed in communicating the revelation of his will to man; in nature one with the Father, in majesty co-eternal.

2. He enlarges on the surpassing excellence of this Son of God, who has appeared in the human nature. (1.) It is he whom he hath appointed heir of all things as Mediator, exalting him to the sovereign and universal dominion over the works of his hands, and especially giving him to be Head over all things to his church, in and through whom alone any member of it can be entitled to the eternal inheritance. (2.) By whom also he made the worlds, exerting his co-agency and co-operation with the Father, not as an instrument, but as the great Creator. (3.) Who being the brightness of his glory, Light of Light, and very God of very God, possessing the essential attributes of Deity; and the express image of his person, bearing his exact resemblance in every divine perfection, appears his visible representative. And, (4.) As he is the Creator, so he continues upholding all things by the word of his power, supporting and governing them by his divine energy and providence. (5.) When he had by himself purged our sins, Himself the great High-priest and Sacrifice, expiating the sins of the world, which the blood of bulls and goats, shed by the Levitical priests, could never take away, and having by one oblation of himself, once offered, obtained eternal redemption for all his faithful saints,—(6.) When he had thus made the all-atoning sacrifice on the cross, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, in virtue of his own blood entering into the holy place not made with hands, and, as a priest upon his throne, (Zechariah 6:13.) he is exalted to the highest dignity and glory in his human nature. (7.) He has the pre-eminence, not only above the greatest prophets, but over the highest of the heavenly hosts: being made so much better than the angels; in his character as Mediator, as well as in the transcendent excellence of his divine nature, he infinitely surpasses the most glorious of all created beings, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they, even the name of Son of God, in a sense peculiar to himself, and which appears evident from the transcendent exaltation which in virtue of his sufferings he has now by right obtained.

3. In support of his argument, to prove the infinite pre-eminence of the incarnate Son above the highest of the angelic hosts, he brings the strongest proofs from those scriptures which the Jews admitted as of divine authority. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, the same in essential Deity; this day have I begotten thee, even from eternity, which to God is one permanent unsuccessive day; or this refers to his resurrection from the dead, whereby his eternal Sonship was manifested, (Romans 1:4.) and again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son, treated with peculiar and distinguishing love, and raised to the eternal throne of glory. And again, when he bringeth in the First-begotten, the appointed Heir of all things, into the world, at his miraculous conception, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him, and pay him that divine honour which is due to their Creator alone, and is the unalienable right of Deity. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire; their highest honour and dignity is to be the servants of the great Jehovah, and as flames of fire, with such activity and powerful agency, to execute his will and pleasure. But unto the Son, as their eternal King, he saith, Thy throne, O God, who art the essential Jehovah, is for ever and ever, from everlasting unchangeably the same, and to eternity must endure; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom; thou hast the most undisputed title to reign; thy bosom is the seat of justice, and thy administration is marked with unsullied truth, holiness, and equity. Thou hast loved righteousness, fulfilling it in thy own person, and approving it in thy people, and hated iniquity, about to punish it with everlasting perdition; therefore God, even thy God, thy covenant God as the incarnate Mediator, hath anointed thee to the office of prophet, priest, and king, with the oil of gladness, with the most immeasurable fulness of spiritual gifts and graces, above thy fellows, whether angels or saints, kings, priests, or prophets. And thou, Lord, in the beginning, before any creature yet had a being, by thy omnipotent creative power, hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: all the creatures, spiritual or corporeal, animate or inanimate, from the highest to the lowest, own thee their great Creator. They shall perish, this visible creation of heaven and earth shall decay; but thou remainest, unchangeable, immortal; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment, the creatures of this lower world are mouldering daily, and nature's dissolution is at hand; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed, but thou art the same, immutably, eternally; and thy years shall not fail, the same yesterday, to-day and for ever. But to which of the angels said he at any time; as he did to his incarnate Son, Sit thou on my right hand, enthroned in supreme majesty, until I make thine enemies thy footstool, and raise thee triumphant over every foe, when sin, Satan, death, and hell, shall be for ever put under thy feet? Such language belongs not to the highest of the angelic host: for are they not all ministering spirits, servants to the great Mediator, and sent forth, under his command, to minister for them, in every kind office, who shall be heirs of salvation? that is, by right of sonship; for if sons, then heirs, Romans 8:17 and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ, Galatians 4:7 and heirs according to the promise, Galatians 3:29 for to as many as believed, he gave power to become the sons of God, John 1:12. From the whole we may observe, (1.) The transcendent glory of the Lord Jesus: [1.] In his divine nature. [2.] In his mediatorial capacity.—The great Creator.—The self-existent Jehovah.—The eternal, immutable God.—The object of adoration to the highest beings, angels as well as men,—and reigning and to reign for ever and ever. (2.) The honour and office of the angelic hosts; to adore their King, to obey his mandates with delight and vigour, and to serve those highly distinguished sons of men, who are the faithful followers of Jesus Christ, their great Creator. (3.) The dignity of God's faithful children, standing in this high and holy relation to him as adopted by his grace, and designed for the enjoyment of his glory, attended by ministers of flame, and shortly to be conducted by them to their eternal home. (4.) Vast and amazing as this visible creation now appears, the day approaches, when, like the baseless fabric of a vision, all shall be dissolved; and by almighty power shall arise a new heaven and earth, to be the blessed abode of the faithful redeemed.

(5.) Jesus must reign on his mediatorial throne till all his enemies are finally subdued, and his triumphant people shall come to reign with him in glory everlasting.


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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/hebrews-1.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

This is that last testimony produced by the apostle to prove Christ's pre-eminency above the angels. He is a Son, they are but servants to believers, to the church of Christ, to the heirs of salvation.

Observe here, 1. The nature of angels declared: they are spirits, without any thing material or corporeal belonging to them, yet having a power to assume a body, and appear in human shape, when they please. The scripture describes them as excelling in strength, purity, and holiness, to be of great activity and swiftness, and gives intimation of several ranks and orders among them, distinguishing them by the names of principalities and powers, thrones and dominions; but what the difference of these names do import, none can positively declare.

Observe, 2. Their general office declared: they are ministering spirits, they are God's domestic servants, they attend upon his throne, they expect his commands, they execute his pleasure, and are in a constant readiness to do his will. The angels are the great instruments of Providence in the world; not that God needs them, or cannot manage with out them; for he can do whatever he pleaseth in heaven and earth. God can steer all human affairs with the least nod and beck of his will, with out any instruments at all; but his wisdom and goodness thinks fit to honour his creatures with his commands, they execute his pleasure, and are in a constant readiness to do his will.

The angels are the great instruments of Providence in the world; not that God needs them, or cannot manage without them; for he can do whatever he pleaseth in heaven and earth. God can steer all human affairs with the least nod and beck of his will, without any instruments at all; but his wisdom and goodness thinks fit to honour his creatures with his commands, that so they may be capable of his favour and rewards.

Observe, 3. The special office and employment of good angels, with reference to good men; they are sent forth, there is their designation and appointment; to minister, that is their general end and employment; for the heirs of salvation, that is their special and peculiar business; they have a charge of the bodies and souls of the saints whilst alive; a special charge of their souls at death, to conduct them to blessedness, and probably a care and charge of their bodies after death, as may be gathered from Jude 1:25

Learn hence, 1. That the highest honour of the nost glorious angels in heaven, is to minister to the saints by God's appointment here on earth.

Learn 2. That such is the love and care of God towards his saints, that he sends the most glorious attendants upon his own throne, to minister unto them, and to take care of them. Behold then the astonishing regard which the great God has for good men, in that he appoints all his angels to minister to them, for the safe guard of their persons, for the success of their affairs, and for the security of their eternal salvation.

Lord! what is man, that thou art thus mindful of him; that when thou madest him lower than the angels, thou shouldest yet make the angels minister unto him! Behold also the impiety of the church of Rome, in worshipping of angels! Surely, if they are our fellow-servants, and minister unto us, we are by no means to worship them. Revelation 19:10


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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/hebrews-1.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

14.] Are they not all (all the angels) ministering (in reference probably to λειτουργούς in Hebrews 1:7. The word λειτουργικός, not found in the classics, is used in the LXX (reff.) of any thing pertaining to the λειτουργοί or their service; the instruments, vessels, garments, or offerings for the ministry: here, of those devoted to or belonging to the ministry of God) spirits (unembodied beings, even as God Himself, but distinguished by the epithet λειτουργικά. The idea of “angels of service” or “of the ministry,” is familiar to the Rabbis: see quotations in Wetstein) sent forth (mark the present participle, so also in ref. Rev.: he does not mean that angels have before now, in insulated cases, been sent forth, but that they are ever thus being sent forth,—it is their normal work and regular duty through all the ages of time) for ministry (in order to the ministration which is their work. The E. V. “sent forth to minister for them,” gives a wrong idea of the meaning. The διακονία is not a waiting upon men, but a fulfilment of their office as διάκονοι of God. See Romans 13:4. Schlichting observes, “Noluit dicere, ut ministrent iis qui &c. Non enim proprie ministratur et servitur illis, qui imperandi aut jubendi jus nullum habent, licet ministerium alteri præstitum in alterius commodum sæpe suscipiatur atque vertatur. Angeli proprie ministrant Deo et Christo, sed tamen in piorum usum et commodum. Idcirco maluit dicere, propter eos” &c. It may fairly be questioned whether the same idea, that of ‘ministering to God in behalf of,’ is not to be traced in such expressions as εἰς διακονίαν τοῖς ἁγίοις ἔταξαν ἑαυτούς, 1 Corinthians 16:15; εἰς διακονίαν πέμψαι τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς, Acts 11:29. Compare with this expression Colossians 1:7, πιστὸς ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν διάκονος τοῦ χριστοῦ) on behalf of those who are about to inherit salvation ( σωτηρία, in the highest sense—eternal salvation: not, as Kuin., al. “deliverance from dangers:” in so solemn a reference, that meaning would be quite beside the purpose. Those spoken of are the elect of God, they who love Him, and for whom all things work together for good, even the principalities and powers in heavenly places. And if it be said, that the ministration of angels has often been used for other immediate purposes than the behoof of the elect, we may answer, that all those things may well come under the διακονία διὰ τοὺς μέλλ. κληρον. σωτηρίαν: for all things are theirs; and for them, in and as united to Christ, all events are ordered)? Thus the Son of God is proved superior to the angels—i. e. to the highest of created beings: who, so far from being equal with Him, worship Him, and serve His purposes.


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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/hebrews-1.html. 1863-1878.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Hebrews 1:14. Confirmation of the πρὸς τίνα δὲ τῶν ἀγγέλων εἴρηκέν ποτε, showing the inconceivableness of such a thing by a reference to the nature of the angels, and with this the termination of the present train of thought.

The emphasis rests upon πάντες and λειτουργικά: are not all (alike, whether they belong to a lower or higher class of angels) ministering spirits [spirits in waiting]? πνεύματα here in a different sense from Hebrews 1:7.

εἰς διακονίαν] for service, sc. which they render to God, not to the men who shall inherit the σωτηρία; otherwise, in place of διὰ τοὺς μέλλοντας, the dative τοῖς μέλλουσι κληρονομεῖν σωτηρίαν (1 Corinthians 16:15) or the genitive τῶν μελλόντων κ. τ. λ. would have been placed.

The participle present ἀποστελλόμενα brings out the permanent, habitual character of the action expressed by the verb.

διὰ τοὺς κ. τ. λ.] for the sake of those who shall inherit (everlasting) salvation (this is intended by σωτηρίαν, although without the article, see Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 114; not: deliverance from peril, as Michaelis, Schleusner, Böhme, Kuinoel assume), i.e. in order, by means of the offices in which they are employed by God, to bring it in for the same.


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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/hebrews-1.html. 1832.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 2272

THE MINISTRY OF ANGELS

Hebrews 1:14. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

THE superiority of Christ to angels occupies the mind of the Apostle throughout this chapter. He has illustrated it already in a very convincing way. He has adduced many passages of Holy Writ which confessedly belong to the Messiah; and has shewn, that they never have been, nor can be, applied to them, because the things predicated in them, exclusively belong to him. The representations given of the angels necessarily imply a great inferiority to him: for they are commanded to worship him [Note: ver. 6.], as their Creator [Note: ver. 10–12.], and their God [Note: ver. 8.]. Nor is it him only whom they serve: they are the servants of his people also, appointed by him to that very office, and executing it for his honour and glory. This the Apostle mentions as an indisputable fact; and appeals to the Hebrews themselves respecting it: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”

The ministry of angels is not only a curious subject as it relates to them, but a very interesting subject as it relates to us; since we, if we be heirs of salvation, are the very persons for whom they minister. We propose therefore to consider the ministry of angels,

I. As evinced in their services for God’s people of old—

They are called by the Apostle “ministering spirits,” which designates at once both their nature and office. In their nature they are not corporeal, but spiritual beings: and they possess both wisdom and strength far beyond any of the sons of men [Note: 2 Samuel 14:20. 2 Peter 2:11.]. Their number was once far greater than it at present is; for vast multitudes of them “kept not their first estate, but left their first habitation, and are reserved in chains of darkness to the judgment of the great day [Note: Jude, ver. 6.].” Those who have held fast their integrity are called “the elect angels;” and of them there are myriads, yea millions without number [Note: Psalms 68:17. Revelation 5:11. Hebrews 12:22.]. Amongst them are different ranks and orders, (as there are also amongst the fallen angels,) under Michael their head, who is therefore called “the archangel,” whilst they are called “his angels [Note: Jude, ver. 9. Revelation 12:7.].”

On God they wait, as his servants, with the utmost alacrity and zeal [Note: Psalms 103:20-21.]: and by him they are employed in executing his holy will.

They were employed by him at the promulgation of his law [Note: Acts 7:53. Deuteronomy 33:2.]: and they have been rendered useful also in the diffusion of his Gospel [Note: Revelation 14:6.].

By him they have been sent forth both as executioners of his vengeance and as dispensers of his mercies. By an angel, he slew in one hour the whole Egyptian first-born both of men and beasts [Note: Exodus 12:23.]. By the agency of one of those powerful spirits was the pestilence produced, to which, for the punishment of David’s sin, seventy thousand Israelites fell victims [Note: 2 Samuel 24:16-17.]. It was by a sword wielded by a similar messenger from God, that one hundred and eighty-five thousand of the Assyrian host also were slain in one night [Note: Isaiah 37:36.]. Nor is it in such extensive ravages only that they have been employed: a single individual, whom God has ordained to punish for his iniquity, has been the object of a similar commission, and been made to feel the weight of an angel’s avenging arm: an angel smote Herod for his pride, and he was eaten up of worms [Note: Acts 12:23.]. In like manner they have been frequently made God’s ministers for good. In the instances already mentioned they proved signal benefactors, no less than avengers: for, if they smote the enemies of God, they effected thereby a great deliverance for Israel: and if they corrected his people, it was with a view to humble them, and to bring them to repentance. But they have been no less willing to minister to individuals than to a whole nation: nor have they accounted any office beneath their attention. Was Abraham’s steward sent to seek a wife for Isaac? an angel went before him to prepare his way [Note: Genesis 24:7.]. Did Hagar flee from the face of her mistress? an angel advised her to return [Note: Genesis 16:7-9.]. And when she was put away by Abraham, and her child was perishing with thirst, an angel directed her to a well, where she might find an immediate supply [Note: Genesis 21:17.]. Were Lot and his family in danger of perishing in Sodom? with what affectionate solicitude did angels go to bring them forth from that devoted place [Note: Genesis 19:1; Genesis 19:11; Genesis 19:15-17.]! Does Balaam hasten to curse Israel? an angel obstructs his way, and does not suffer him to proceed, till he engages to utter nothing but what the Lord shall put into his mouth [Note: Numbers 22:22-35.]. Does the highly-favoured Daniel pour out his soul before God in prayer? an angel flies from the highest heavens to give him assured intelligence of the acceptance of his prayers [Note: Daniel 9:21-23.].

Under the New Testament dispensation also, we find them alike attentive to the welfare of God’s people. Is the child Jesus in danger of being involved in the common ruin of the infants whom Harried slew? an angel appears to Joseph, and directs him to flee to Egypt with his wife and child [Note: Matthew 2:13.]. Is Peter kept in prison to be brought forth the very next day for execution? an angel opens for him the prison doors, and liberates him from his confinement [Note: Acts 12:7.]. Is Paul ready to be overwhelmed in the waves of the tempestuous ocean? an angel comes to assure him, that both he, and for his sake all the ship’s company also, shall be saved [Note: Acts 27:23.].

We might adduce a great many other instances of their friendly interposition for the people of God: but sufficient has been spoken to shew, that the office of ministering to the saints has not been assigned to them on one or two occasions only of extraordinary magnitude, but that it has been in every successive age their uniform and willing employment.

By the view we have taken of their ministry in former times, we shall be prepared to contemplate it,

II. As still exercised towards the heirs of salvation—

The vision of Jacob’s ladder, with the angels ascending and descending upon it, is still realized throughout the world, even as our blessed Lord has taught us to expect it should be [Note: Genesis 28:12. John 1:51.]. As soon as we embrace the Gospel, we are brought into actual communion with them, even with that “innumerable company of them” that are before the throne of God [Note: Hebrews 12:22.]. But, as ubiquity is the prerogative of God only, there are some who have a special charge of particular saints, and whose office it is to watch over them in a more especial manner [Note: Matthew 18:10 and Acts 12:15.].

They have still, as formerly, a great concern for the Gospel, desiring to get a deeper insight into it themselves [Note: 1 Peter 1:12.], and longing for a diffusion of it throughout the world. As the first promulgation of it was to them an occasion of joy and triumph, insomuch that they left their bright abodes in heaven, and came down, a whole multitude of them, to earth on purpose to proclaim it [Note: Luke 2:13-14.]; so the acceptance of it by any single individual is to them a source of unutterable joy: not even the glory of the Divine presence so attracts their notice, but they can with pleasure turn away their eyes to behold a mourning penitent; nor is their felicity in God himself so perfect, but it receives an addition from this blissful sight [Note: Luke 15:10.]. From the moment that any one receives the Gospel aright, they become his servants, and wait upon him with unwearied assiduity. “They encamp around him” when he is stationary [Note: Psalms 34:7.], and go out with him wheresoever he goes, in order to “hold him up in their hands, lest he dash his foot against a stone [Note: Psalms 91:11-12.].” Nor is it about his corporeal welfare only that they are concerned: they are attentive also to the concerns of his soul, and oftentimes succour him in his conflicts, even as they did his Lord and Master, who, we are expressly told, had “an angel sent from heaven to strengthen him” when agonizing in the garden [Note: Luke 22:43.]. What was then accomplished in the Head, is doubtless yet daily wrought in the members also: for as “He was tempted in all things like as we are,” so shall we be succoured in all things like as he was [Note: John 6:57.]. In a dying hour, more especially, they redouble their attentions; and wait with tender solicitude the departure of the spirit, that they may bear it on their wings to heaven into the very presence of their God. Nor do they render this service only to men of higher rank and quality: they minister with equal pleasure to the least and meanest of mankind: if there be a Lazarus so poor as to subsist only on the crumbs that fall from a rich man’s table, and so destitute of friends that the very dogs surround him to lick his sores [Note: Luke 16:21-22.], they will perform the same office for him as freely as for the greatest monarch upon earth.

Beyond this life too will they afford us their kind services: for, when our bodies, after having mouldered into dust, shall again be raised in the last day, these benevolent agents will employ themselves in gathering together the dispersed saints from every quarter of the globe, and in bearing them into the presence of their Lord and Saviour [Note: Matthew 24:30-31.]. The separation of the tares from the wheat will be effected by them: and, whilst the tares are bound up by them in bundles, and cast into the fire that never shall be quenched, the wheat shall be gathered by them, and carried into the granary of heaven [Note: Matthew 13:30.]. O fearful thought to the ungodly, to find those benevolent spirits the instruments of their destruction, when they might, but for their own fault, have secured them as agents for their welfare! But to the saints how joyful the contemplation, that those elder brethren who never fell, will so exult in, and contribute to, the recovery of our apostate race!

Their services will now be ended, because we shall then no longer have any occasion for their aid. But the expressions of their love will never end: for, having seen with joy our fruition of redeeming love, they will unite with us in songs of praise to our redeeming God for ever and ever [Note: Revelation 5:9-13.].

Improvement—

1. How desirable is it to be found amongst “the heirs of salvation!”

[To be heirs of great estates we all account desirable; but to be “heirs of salvation,” how few of us regard as an object worthy of any serious attention! The very character of an heir of salvation, so far from being estimable in the eyes of the generality, is despised; and the names by which such a person is designated in Scripture, are made terms of reproach. “The elect,” “the saints,” “the godly,” are names in the estimation of the world equivalent to hypocrites and fanatics. Such, however, is not the opinion of the holy angels. When once we are brought into that family of which Christ is the head, they love us, they honour us, they serve us; yea, they account it their highest honour to minister unto us. Let me then exhort all of you, my brethren, to defer to the judgment of those, who must confessedly be so much better judges than yourselves: for it is not the angels only who thus express their sentiments, but God also, who assigns to them this very office, and sends them forth for the execution of it. And, if men treat us with contempt because we prefer an invisible and eternal inheritance before one that is visible and temporal, “let us not be ashamed, but let us glorify God on this behalf [Note: 1 Peter 4:16.].”

Does any one ask, How shall I become an heir of salvation? I answer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,” and “cleave unto him with full purpose of heart;” for then shall ye be children of the living God [Note: John 1:12. Galatians 4:26; Galatians 4:29.]: and, “if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ [Note: Romans 8:17.];” who, if he is “the Saviour of all men, is especially the Saviour of them that believe [Note: 1 Timothy 4:10.].”]

2. How awful will it be to be found amongst the opposers of God’s people!

[Little did the persecuting Saul think whom he opposed, when he laboured to destroy the followers of Christ. He imagined that his efforts were directed only against a number of wild enthusiasts: but, when he heard the Lord Jesus Christ himself expostulating with him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” he saw his error, and learned, that “whoso toucheth God’s people, toucheth the apple of his eye [Note: Zechariah 2:8.].” Nor are the angels indifferent about the treatment which is shewn to the objects of their care. Of this we are assured expressly by our Lord himself: and we desire your particular attention to this point.

Our Lord, in order to inculcate the great doctrine of humility, exhorted his Disciples to imitate a little child, which, for the more effectually impressing of the lesson upon their minds, he had set in the midst of them. He then declared, that whoso should offend one of the little ones who believed in him, it would be better for him that a mill-stone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. And the reason which he assigns is very remarkable: “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones: for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my father which is in heaven [Note: Matthew 18:6; Matthew 18:10.].” What is the meaning of this? and what is the force of this menace? The foregoing subject will explain it. The meaning is this. The least and meanest of God’s people have one or more angels peculiarly interested about them in heaven: and, when they see the injuries done to the objects of their care, they cry to God in their behalf for vengeance; “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge their cause [Note: Revelation 6:10.]?” And then, as “they do continually his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word,” they wait for the first intimation of the Divine will, and are ready to execute without delay the judgment which God assigns: and, if there were an hundred and eighty-five thousand of those enemies, they should all be “eaten up with worms,” as Herod was, or be cut off, like the Assyrian host, in one single night. And let us mark particularly the extent of this admonition. It is not said, Take heed that ye do not destroy my people; but, that ye do not “despise” them; that ye despise not “one” of them; not one of “these little ones,” however mean and despicable he may appear; for he has an avenger in heaven: and the vengeance he will inflict is far more terrible than being drowned in the depths of the sea; for into the depths of hell shall he cast your soul, the very instant he has inflicted the fatal stroke upon your body. Ah! brethren, will ye not tremble at this menace? Will ye still account it a light matter either outwardly to deride, or inwardly to despise, a child of God? Beware, I pray you, of your impending danger: and, if ye will not seek to become heirs of salvation yourselves, at your peril lift not up your finger against one that is. If this be man’s threatening, disregard it; but, if it be God’s, know that ye cannot hope for success in fighting against God.]

3. How excellent a work is that of ministering to the saints!

[It has been shewn that this is an office which even the angels themselves affect. And that they do perform it, is not merely asserted in our text, but assumed as a fact that is undoubted and unquestionable: “Are they not ministering spirits? are they not all sent forth to minister for them that shall be heirs of salvation?” Is there so much as one amongst them all that accounts himself too high to wait upon the least and lowest of the human race? If then such be their employment, see what an honourable office those amongst ourselves sustain who are labouring in any way for the good of souls! They are fellow-workers with angels, yea, and fellow-workers with God also. Engage then in this good work, all of you, according to your ability; knowing that, “if ye are to do good unto all men, ye are especially to do it unto them that are of the household of faith [Note: Galatians 6:10.].” Do it then in every possible way [Note: Here recommend the Bible Society, or Mission Societies, or Jews’ Society, or Charity Schools, or Visiting Societies, or Charities of any kind, as occasion may require.] — — — And the more ye resemble the angels here, the more richly shall ye participate their felicity in a better world.]


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Bibliography
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/hebrews-1.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Hebrews 1:14. πάντες, all) although distinguished into various orders by various names, implying even some dominion: Ephesians 1:21.— λειτουργικὰἀποστελλόμενα, who minister—who are sent) They minister before God [are employed in praises.—V. g.]; are sent, viz. abroad, to men [in order that they may execute the commandments of GOD concerning other created things.—V. g.] Both are opposed to sitting at the right hand. Comp. Luke 1:19.— τοὺς μέλλοντας κληρονομεῖν, those who shall receive the inheritance of) i.e. the elect, and them who believe or who are about to believe. A sweet periphrasis.— σωτηρίαν, salvation) from so many and so great dangers.

—————


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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/hebrews-1.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Are they not all ministering spirits? The apostle here proves, that angels are but ministers to the great gospel Minister, and to the members of his body the church, and so must be meaner than him for state, nature, and name. This negative interrogation is a vehement assertion. The nature, dignity, and office of angels were well known to these Hebrews out of the Old Testament, and which he repeats: they were for nature spirits, intellectual, active, incorporeal, and incorruptible creatures; yet though so excellent, were still creatures; whereas Christ was an uncreated Spirit, and they were but servants to him their Lord; and though there be degrees and orders among them from the archangel to the lowest angel, they are every one of them single, and all of them together, servants to Christ, and so they own themselves to be, Revelation 19:10 22:9.

Sent forth to minister for them; and so they move all at his order, and go and come at his command. Their employment directed by him; he sends them forth to deliver his errands, Acts 5:19, and Acts 12:7,11, to reveal his will to them, Revelation 1:1 Psalms 103:21, &c. All the parts of ministry to which he appointeth them, they cheerfully, swiftly, and effectually perform.

Who shall be heirs of salvation; such as God hath chosen and called to be children to himself and joint-heirs with his only Son, as have a right to, are fitting for, and shall be at last possessed of, eternal glory; these angels are to serve and help them on for to attain it, they themselves being elect, in and by Christ unto this end, 1 Timothy 5:21 2 Timothy 2:10. All which demonstrate him to be a more excellent person, and to have a more excellent name, than they.


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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/hebrews-1.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Ministering spirits; Genesis 19:1-23; Psalms 34:7; Psalms 103:21; Daniel 6:22; Daniel 7:10. Christians are highly honored and greatly blessed; their attendants are more exalted than those of any earthly kings, and they are themselves to be kings and priests unto God, and to reign with him for ever and ever. Romans 5:17; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 5:9-10; Revelation 22:5.


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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "Family Bible New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/hebrews-1.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

14. λειτουργικὰ πνεύματα εἰς διακονίαν, “ministering spirits … for service.” Here as elsewhere the A.V. obliterates distinctions, which it so often arbitrarily creates out of mere love for variety in other places. The word λειτουργικὰ implies sacred (“liturgic”) service (Hebrews 8:6, Hebrews 9:21); the word διακονίαν implies service to men.

“How oft do they their silver bowers leave

And come to succour us who succour want;

How oft do they with golden pinions cleave

The flitting skies like flying pursuivant,

Against foul fiends to aid us militant!

They for us fight, they watch and duly ward

And their bright squadrons round about us plant,

And all for love and nothing for reward.

Oh! why should heavenly God for men have such regard?”

SPENSER.

διὰ τοὺς μέλλοντας κληρονομεῖν σωτηρίαν. “For the sake of those who are about to inherit salvation.” The salvation is both the state of salvation here, and its full fruition hereafter. When we are “justified by God’s grace” we are “made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7). Spenser widens the mission of the Angels when he speaks of

“Highest God, who loves His creatures so

That blessed Angels He sends to and fro

To serve to wicked men—to serve His deadliest foe.”

For Scriptural instances of the service of Angels “to them that fear God” see Psalms 34:7; Psalms 91:11; Genesis 19:15; Daniel 6:22; Acts 12:7.

ἀποστελλόμενα, “being sent forth.” The ministry of Angels is regarded as still continuing.

σωτηρίαν. The writer recurs to this great word “salvation” in Hebrews 2:3; Hebrews 2:10.


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"Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/hebrews-1.html. 1896.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

REFLECTIONS

Praises to the Lord Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord! And praises to his holy name, that he hath been pleased to make known the fellowship of the mystery, hid in God from the beginning of the world, which in times past was opened in divers manners to the fathers by the prophets; but now, in these last days, fully, and completely made known to the Church, in the Person of his dear Son! Lord Jesus! we hail thy glorious appearing, in all the revelations thou hast made! We adore thee for thy natural, and essential glories, as One with the Father. We adore thee in all thy mediatorial characters, as God-Man, heir of all things! And we would desire grace to praise thee, love thee, delight in thee, for all thy finished redemption-work, and grace, manifested to thy Church, and People; that when by thyself thou hadst purged our sins, thou didist take thy seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Oh! the rapture and the joy, that Jesus, by inheritance hath obtained a more excellent name than angels; and that his people, his fellows, by their union with him, and their right in him, are begotten to the same heritage, and will enter into the joy of their Lord. Oh! that God the Spirit, who in grace and love, hath brought the Church acquainted with these precious things, may daily, by his quickening, and renewing influences, anoint all the fellows of Christ, with the same oil of gladness, as their glorious Head. And while our God and Father saith unto his dear Son, Thy throne, 0 God, is forever and ever; all his adopted children may know their oneness and interest in Christ, and in that kingdom, which cannot fail!


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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/hebrews-1.html. 1828.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

14. They—The angels in contrast with the Son. He is enthroned at God’s right hand; they are perpetual servants.

All—Even to the highest rank. Even Gabriel ministered to Daniel.

Ministering—Liturgical; that is, performing a public and sacred service. For the liturgia (whence our liturgy) was originally in Athens a public service rendered by wealthy citizens to the public at their own expense; thence the term designated the sacred ministrations of the Jewish priesthood in the temple. The angels are liturgical spirits performing God’s public ministrations. The angels are not menials or secular servants; they are sacred servitors. They do not carry on the processes of mere physical nature.

Spirits—In contrast with human, corporeal, ministers.

Sent forth—Passive participle in the continuous present, being ever sent forth. Whence sent forth, may appear from our closing note on Hebrews 1:3.

For—Not to. Their service is rendered to God in behalf of men. And not for all men, but specially for heirs; or, rather, those who are about to be heirs; heirs not only in expectation but in possession; that is, who will in due time come into a realized inheritance of salvation. Notes on Matthew 18:10, and Ephesians 2:2.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/hebrews-1.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to do service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?’

What the angels are is now made clear. They are spirits who serve God, who are sent by Him to do service for those who are to inherit salvation, that is, for those who are His, and destined for final salvation, God’s elect, in order to keep them and help them as they walk in God’s ways. Rather than being Lord over God’s people the good angels are His servants and theirs. This is noble service indeed, but not enjoying the same dignity as the status of the Son, Who is made Lord of all.

We must beware of reading too much into the words in this verse. The task of angels has been defined in Hebrews 1:7 as to be that of being like winds and flames of fire, and it is as such that they serve the heirs of salvation. This would seem to point to invisible yet physical help, rather than to spiritual sustenance. Elsewhere specifically seeking to angels is frowned on (Colossians 2:18), and there is nowhere a suggestion that we look to the angels for help. They are not at man’s bidding, but at God’s. We may, however, draw lessons from past angelic activity which involves their going invisibly before God’s people as they obey God (Exodus 23:20; Exodus 23:23 compare Numbers 20:16), protection (Psalms 91:11; Daniel 6:22), deliverance (Acts 12:7), and strengthening (Luke 22:43), as well as occasional judgment (2 Samuel 24:16-17; Acts 12:23), and acting as God’s messengers (often). And Revelation makes clear the powerful background activity of angels. But all solely as God wills. We should be looking to the Son, not to angels.


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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/hebrews-1.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

God revealed a primary purpose and ministry of the angels in this verse. It is to assist human beings in reaching their final deliverance over their spiritual enemies. This includes bringing us to conversion. However, it also involves protecting and strengthening us so that we may one day obtain our full inheritance with Christ in glory. This ministry of service is obviously inferior to Jesus Christ"s ministry of ruling.

Was the writer speaking of all Christians or only of faithful Christians when He wrote of "those who will inherit salvation?" The word "salvation" (Gr. soteria) occurs seven times in Hebrews , more than in any other book of the New Testament. [Note: For a study of salvation in Hebrews , see Brenda B. Colijn, ""Let Us Approach": Soteriology in the Epistle to the Hebrews ," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society39:4 (December1996):571-86.] In some of his other uses of "inheritance" and "inherit" he referred to all Christians as inheriting from God (e.g, Hebrews 9:15; cf. Hebrews 11:8). At other times he apparently meant only faithful Christians (e.g, Hebrews 6:12; cf. Hebrews 11:17). I think he was probably speaking of all Christians here in view of what he just said about the ministry of angels. There is no other Scripture that limits the angels" ministry to faithful Christians or indicates that angels have a special ministry to faithful Christians (cf. Matthew 18:10).

""Inherit" is often used in the NT in senses other than the strict one of obtaining something by a will. It can mean "obtain possession of" without regard to the means. It is used of possessing the earth ( Matthew 5:5), the kingdom of God ( 1 Corinthians 6:9-10), eternal life ( Mark 10:17), the promises ( Hebrews 6:12), incorruption ( 1 Corinthians 15:50), blessing ( Hebrews 12:17), a more excellent name ( Hebrews 1:4, ...)." [Note: Morris, p20.]

This writer spoke of the inheritance of Christians as the Old Testament writers spoke of the inheritance of the Israelites. Our inheritance refers to all that God wants to give His people. We will inevitably receive some of that (cf1Per. Hebrews 1:3-9). However, we can forfeit part of our inheritance through unfaithfulness, as Esau did ( Hebrews 12:16) and as the generation of Israelites who died in the wilderness did ( Hebrews 3:7 to Hebrews 4:11). [Note: See the Appendix, at the end of these notes, for a chart that clarifies what all believers will inherit and what faithful believers will additionally inherit.]

"In contrast with the first part of this verse, the last three words ["will inherit salvation"] are all major concepts in Hebrews." [Note: Ellingworth, p133.]

Thus this section closes with a positive encouragement for the readers. The writer"s array of Old Testament quotations in this pericope presents one of the most glorious Christologies in Scripture. He placed emphasis on Jesus" future reign as God"s King who is also David"s Son. In summary, the Son is superior to the angels in seven respects.

1. He is the Son of God ( Hebrews 1:5 a).

2. He is the promised son of David ( Hebrews 1:5 b).

3. He is the sovereign whom angels worship as Yahweh ( Hebrews 1:6).

4. His ministry is not that of a temporary servant like the angels ( Hebrews 1:7).

5. His ministry is that of the eternal ruler ( Hebrews 1:8-9).

6. He is the immutable creator ( Hebrews 1:10-12).

7. He is the sovereign who will rule as victor over all His enemies ( Hebrews 1:13).

"The writer of Hebrews uses seven eschatological passages in Hebrews 1:5-14 to demonstrate Jesus" right to rule in the coming millennial kingdom. Because of this extensive quoting from six psalms and2Samuel7 , the term soteria ("salvation") in Hebrews 1:14 is best understood in the Old Testament sense as deliverance from the enemies of Yahweh and participation in His kingdom." [Note: T. Kem Oberholtzer, "The Warning Passages in Hebrews ," Bibliotheca Sacra145:577 (January-March1988):96-97.]


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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/hebrews-1.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Hebrews 1:14. Are they not all ministering spirits?—a blending in reverse order of the expressions found in Hebrews 1:7. The play upon the words ‘ministering spirits sent forth to minister’ is not in the Greek. The original is simply ‘ministering spirits continually sent forth on (or for) service.’ The word here rendered ‘ministering’ is used in N. T. to express the temple service; and the word rendered ‘ministry’ or service is a form of the word that expresses deaconship or subordinate service generally. The worship and the work of angels is carried on in the great temple of nature and grace, and their service originates in the needs and claims of those who are soon to possess complete salvation. Of their ministry, for the benefit of all who believe, we have many examples under both Testaments. It is none the less real now that it is unseen.


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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/hebrews-1.html. 1879-90.

John Owen Exposition of Hebrews

The apostle having proved the pre-eminence of the Son, as mediator of the new testament, above all the angels, from those attributions of honor and glory that are made unto him in the Scriptures, the like whereunto are nowhere made forgiven unto angels, that he may not appear to argue merely negatively, from what is not said concerning them, adds in this last verse such a description of their nature and office, or work and employment, as shows that indeed no such thing can be rightly spoken or affirmed concerning them as he hath before manifested to be spoken and recorded concerning the Son.

Hebrews 1:14. οὐχὶ πάντες εἰσὶ λειτουργικὰ πςέματα, εἰς διακονίαν ἀποστελλόμενα διὰ τοὺς μέλλοντας κληρονομεῖν σωτηρίαν;

There is no difference in the reading, nor much about the translation of these words. (11)

(11) TRANSLATION — Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to execute His service, for the sake of those who shall inherit salvation? — Conybeare and Howson. — ED.

Hebrews 1:14. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to minister to [unto a ministry for] them that shall inherit salvation?

This was the common received doctrine of the church concerning angels, suitable unto the Scripture and to the purpose of the apostle, as manifesting their disinterest in the glory before ascribed unto the Son.

Sundry things are here expressed concerning angels, which we must briefly pass through the consideration of; as, —

1. Their nature. They are πνεόματα λειτουργικά, רוּחוֹת, “ruchoth,” “spirits,” — spiritual subsistences; not qualities, or natural faculties, as the Sadducees imagined, and which, by a homonymy of the name, Maimonides, More Nebuch. part. 2. cap. 3., admits also to be angels, but falsely, and without authority from Scripture or reason. This is their nature, this the Hebrews acknowledged so to be; they are created spirits, not to be compared with or equalled unto Him that made and created all things.

2. Their office. They are πςεόματα λειτουργικά, “ministering spirits.” So are they termed, Psalms 103:21 “Praise the LORD, all his hosts,” מְשָׁרְתָיוLXX., λειτουργοί αὐτοῦ, “his ministers doing his will.” Hence in general the Jews call them משרתים, “ministers;” and among other titles assign this unto God, that he is יוצר משרתים, “the Creator of ministering spirits or angels.” And expressly in the Talmud they are called מלאכי דשירותא; and more frequently by the rabbins in the Hebrew dialect, מלאכי חשרת, “angels of ministry;” above whom that the Messiah was to be, we have formerly showed from themselves.

Now, what kind of office or ministry it is that is ascribed unto them, the word itself doth in part declare, שֵׁרֵתis to minister principally about holy things; nor is it above once applied unto any other ministry. And such a ministry it signifies as is performed with honor and ease; and is opposed unto עֲבֹד, which is to minister with labor and burden. So the ministry of the Levites in bearing the burden of the tabernacle is called עֲבוֹדָה, “a ministry with labor;” while the more easy and honorable employment, which was attended to by them who, by reason of their age, were exempted from bearing of burdens, is called שֵׁרֵת, Numbers 8:11, Deuteronomy 18:7. Such is the ministry of angels. It is in and about holy things, and unto themselves honorable and easy. And this שֵׁרֵת, is rendered λειτουγρία, which expresseth sometimes such a general ministry as compriseth the whole service and worship of the church: Acts 13:2, λειτουργούντων αὐτῶν κυρίῳ, — “As they ministered unto the Lord;” that is, attended unto the performance of all the duties of the church.

This, then, in general is the office of the angels: they are השרת מלאכי, or רחות, πςεύματα λειτουργικά, — “ ministering spirits,” that wait on God in and about his holy services for the good of the church; which also in the like manner ministereth unto God in its own state and condition. And hence it is that the church and they do make up one family, Ephesians 3:15; and they are all fellow-servants in the same family with them that keep the testimony of Jesus, Revelation 19:10.

And this some of the later Jews have retained the tradition of; whence is that of Maimonides, More Nebuch. part, 2. cap. 6., which he citeth out of the Talmud: מעלה אין הקבה עושה דבר עד שנמלר בפמליא של; — “The holy, blessed God doth nothing unless he consult with hissuperior family.” Only, not knowing the rise of the word פמליא, nor what it should signify, he tells us, פמליא הוא המחגה בלשין יוון, “that in the Greek tongue it signifies a host;” whereas it is purely the Latin “familia,” without the least alteration. And the description of this superior part of the family of God is given us, Daniel 7:10, “Thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.” In which words Pseudo-Dionysius, Gregory, and Aquinas, with sundry of the schoolmen, have coined a distinction of angels, into “ministrantes,” those that minister unto God, and “assistentes,” those that stand before him; whereas the whole intendment of the expression is, that all the angels stood ministering before him, as John declares the matter, Revelation 5:11. And therefore the apostle expressly here affirms that they are “all ministering spirits,” cutting off one member of their distinction. Neither is there more intended in the ministry of that upper part of the family of God than is expressed concerning the lower part of it of old: Deuteronomy 18:5, God chose the priests and the Levites לעֲמדֹ לְשָׁרֵת, ” — “ to stand and to minister in the name of the LORD.” The same persons were both “assistentes” and “ministrantes;” they stood to minister before the Lord.

Now, because of this standing and ministering of angels, — that is, their waiting on God in a readiness to do his will, — they may be said in some sense to be the throne of God, from whence he executeth justice and judgment: for as he is called ישֵׁב הַכְּרֻובִים, Psalms 80:2, “He that dwelleth between the cherubim,” as also Psalms 99:1; so the Jews say that the thrones mentioned Daniel 7 were שרים העליונים, “the higher princes” or “angels,” as Abarbanel on the place. This, then, is their office, — they are “all ministering spirits.”

3. Their execution of their office in their actual employment is here also expressed. They are “ministering spirits, εἰς διακονίαν ἀποστελλόμενα,” — “sent out unto a ministry.” “Sent out,” — that is, they are daily so, continually so, the word denoting the present time, which is always. They stand before the presence of God, and are continually sent out by him, sometimes some, sometimes others, — always those that are sufficient for his work.

Now, as we observed before that λειτουργία denotes the whole family service of God, which in general is ascribed unto these children and servants of his in the upper part thereof, they being πςεύματα λειτουργικά, “ministering spirits ;” so here the execution of their work is expressed by two words, which comprise the whole ministry of the church, ἀποστολή and διακονία, — “apostleship” and “laboring ministry;” and therein the harmony is still preserved that is between both parts of the family of God. And as in the service of the church, the ministers thereof do not minister unto men, but unto the Lord for and in the behalf of men, Acts 13:2; so is it with these spirits also, — they are sent out to minister for the good of men, but it is the Lord unto whom they minister; his ministers they are, not ours, Psalms 103:21, though in their ministry, belonging unto the same family with believers, they are their fellow- servants: as all the servants of a king, though otherwise greatly differenced, agree in this, that they are all servants unto the same person. And these two words express both their honor, that they are immediately sent out from the presence of God, they are his apostles, as also their obedience and diligence, they undertake διακονίαν, a “ministry,” to be discharged with care and due observance of him by whom they are sent.

4. There is expressed the restriction of their ministry unto the especial object of their work and employment. It is “for them that shall be heirs of salvation.” διὰ τοὺς μέλλοντας κληρονομεῖν σωτηρίαν, — “for them,” for their sakes, for their good, in their behalf, “who shall inherit salvation.” Heirs they are at present, and hereafter shall inherit, or actually obtain salvation, by virtue of their heirship; that is, elect believers. Yet the apostle speaketh not of them as elect, nor yet absolutely as believers, but as heirs; which they obtain by the privilege of adoption This gives them heirship and an interest in the family of God. And the ministry of the superior part of the family in behalf of the lower respects them as such; that is, as adopted, as children, as heirs, as co-heirs with Christ, Romans 8:16-17. This privilege, I say, amongst others innumerable and inexpressible, we have by our adoption, that being admitted into the family of God, those blessed angels whose special ministry respects that family, have us under their constant care.

It is true, that the ministry of angels is not always absolutely restrained unto the church or family of God; they are employed also in the government of the world. So the angel that was sent unto Daniel affirms, “that in the first year of Darius he stood to confirm and strengthen him,”

Daniel 11:1; that is, to assist him in the wielding of his new-gotten empire: as also Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:20-21, he declares how he acted in opposition to the prince of Persia, and stirred up the prince of Grecia; that is, how he should do so in the appointed time. And so also, doubtless, are they employed about other affairs in the world, from whence much good redounds unto many who yet belong not unto the family of God. But yet two things we may here observe: — First, That though this ministry of theirs was not immediately, yet it was ultimately for the church. For their sake were those mighty empires first raised, and afterwards razed to the ground. And this is that which they consider in their ministry. See Zechariah 1:8-12. And thence it appears that the prince of the kingdom of Persia, who withstood the angel, was not any angel of God, but the king of Persia himself, who labored to obstruct the work committed unto him. Secondly, That the apostle treats in this place of that immediate respect which the ministry of the angels had unto the church, because in that regard alone he carries on his comparison between them and the Son, that only being unto his purpose in hand.

But it may be objected that this their ministry will not clearly evince their inferiority and subordination unto Christ, seeing he himself also was sent, and that for the good of them who shall inherit salvation, and is thence called “The apostle of our profession.” But the differences between him and them in their being sent are so great and manifest, that his superiority unto them and pre-eminence above them is not in the least thereby impeached. He was sent by his own voluntary previous choice and condescension; they are so in pursuit of the state and condition of their creation. He was sent to minister in the “form of a servant” only for a short season, in the days of his flesh; they continue to be so from the beginning to the end of the world. He was sent unto that great and mighty work of mediation which none was worthy to undertake, none able to go through withal but himself alone, the only begotten Son of God; they are sent about the ordinary concernments of the saints: he as the Son; they as servants: he as the author of the whole work of redemption and salvation of the church; they as subordinate assistants in the particular promotion of it. The general agreement, then, of his and their being sent for the good of the church, hath so many and so great differences, in the manner, causes, and ends of it, that it no way takes off from the evidence of their subordination and subjection unto him. And with this demonstration the apostle closeth the argument he hath so long insisted on.

Of the nature of this ministry of angels for the good of them that shall inherit salvation, because it belongs not directly unto the present design of the apostle, and would, in the full consideration of it, cause a long diversion from the work in hand, I shall not treat, although it be a matter singularly deserving our meditation. For the present it may suffice us to observe, that in the government and protection of his saints here below, both as to the dispensation of grace and providence, God is pleased to make use of the ministry of angels, wherein much of their honor and our safety do consist. For a close of the whole, we may only observe the way and manner whereby the apostle proposeth this doctrine of the ministry of angels unto the Hebrews. “Are they not?” saith he. He speaks of it as a matter well known unto them, and acknowledged by them. Their nature, their dignity, and their office, were declared in the Old Testament. Thence were they instructed, that as to their nature they were spirits; in dignity, thrones, principalities, and powers; in office, ministers unto God, sent out for the good of his church. And therefore these things the apostle in sundry places takes for granted, as those that were already known and received in the church of God, Romans 8:38; Ephesians 1:20-21; Colossians 1:16. This doctrine, then, I say, was propagated from the Jews unto the Christians. And from them also came forth much of that curiosity and superstition about angels which afterwards infected the minds of many in the Christian church; for after they were forsaken of God, and began to give up themselves unto vain speculations, there was not any thing wherein the vanity of their minds did more early manifest itself than in their imaginations about angels, — wherein they exercise themselves unto this day. For, to omit their monstrous figments about the original of devils, — most of whom they affirm, to have been begotten by Adam on Lilith, before God formed Eve, and many to have issued from Adam and Eve severally whilst they lived separate an hundred and fifty years after the death of Abel, — as later follies, it is certain that some of them began to vent curiosities about angels in the apostle’s time, Colossians 2:18, and to express their fancies about their names, orders, degrees, and employments. And this they continue yet to do; although they peremptorily deny that they are to be invocated, or prayed unto, — wherein they are outdone by others. Names they have invented for them innumerable, and those many of them uncouth and insignificant. Orders also, or degrees, they assign unto them; some four, some five, some seven, some nine, some thirteen, according as it hath seemed good unto this or that great master among them. From them the pseudo Dionysius, about the fourth or fifth century after Christ, took the occasion and rise of his operose figment about the celestial hierarchy; though he mixed their inventions with many Peripatetical and Pythagorean notions, Aristotle proportioned the number of the intelligences unto the spheres of the heavens; more he granted not. The Pythagoreans and Platonics asserted all things here below to be influenced by the planets in their orbs, the inferior receiving a communication of virtue from the higher, and imparting it unto them beneath. So they interpreted the exsection of Saturn by Jupiter, as that of Coelum by Saturn, to be the interception of their procreative influence, that it should not immediately be communicated unto things below but by them. Out of all these fancies did Dionysius raise his hierarchy. From the Jews he took the disposition of his angels into orders of superiority and rule; from Aristotle their number, placing an order instead of a single intelligence, to answer what is taught in the Scripture concerning their multitude; and from the Pythagorean Platonics the communication of light, knowledge, and illumination from God, by the highest to the lowest series or order, and from them to men on earth. And on this foundation, such as it is, are built the discourses of many commentators on this place, in their inquiries whether angels of the superior orders are sent forth to minister for the good of believers; which is denied by many, though by some later expositors, as Estius, Ribera, Tena, a Lapide, granted and proved, not without much ado. So hard is it sometimes for men to cast down scarecrows of their own setting up.

It remaineth only that we close our whole discourses on this chapter with some observations for our own use and instruction from this last verse; as, —

I. The highest honor of the most glorious spirits in heaven is to minister unto the Lord in the service whereunto he appoints them.

This is the office, this the work of angels; and this is their honor and glory. For what greater honor can a creature be made partaker of, than to be employed in the service of his Creator? what greater glory, than to stand in the presence and to do the will of the King of heaven? If it be an honor on earth to stand before princes, dying, perishing men, and that unto them in nature and kind equal unto those before whom they stand, what is it for them who by nature are at an infinite distance from the glory of God, to stand before Him who lives for ever and ever? And surely it will be unconceivably woeful unto poor souls at the last day, to find how they despised in this world a share and interest in that service which is, and ever was, the glory and honor of angels,

II. Such is the love and care of God towards his saints laboring here below, that he sends the most glorious attendants on his throne to minister unto him in taking care of them. He who gave his only-begotten Son for them will not spare to send his holy angels unto them. Heaven and earth shall be witnesses of his care of them, and the value that he puts upon them.

Now, this being a matter of so great importance as it is unto the church’s consolation, and the doctrine directly taught in the text, we may a little further inquire into it, in answer unto these two questions: —

First, Wherefore is God pleased to use the ministry of angels in the dispensation of his care and good-will unto the church, the heirs of salvation, seeing he can by an almighty facility exert all the effects of it by his own immediate power?

Secondly, Unto what especial ends and purposes doth God make use of the ministry of angels for the good of them that believe?

For the FIRST of these, the principal account of it is to be resolved into his own sovereign will, wisdom, and pleasure. Thus are we always to live in a holy admiration of him, whenever we consider any of his works or ways, Romans 11:33. Herein are we to rest, and to put a stop unto all our inquiries. So it pleased him, Matthew 11:26; and he giveth no account of his matters, Job 33:12-13. This we are to acquiesce in as the great reason of all God’s dispensations and ways, even his own infinite wisdom and sovereign pleasure. He alone knows what becomes his own goodness and greatness, and of creatures not one, but as he is pleased to reveal it. For can we find out the Almighty unto perfection? can we by searching find out God? Job 11:7. How shall poor, limited, finite creatures come to know what beseems the infinite Holy One to do, any otherwise but as himself declareth that he hath done it? And then we know the work is holy and wise, and such as becometh infinite perfection, because he hath done it. Herein, then, we principally rest, as to the meetness and condecency of the ministry of angels, — God hath appointed it. Whereunto we may add those other reasons which the Scripture suggests unto us, as, —

1. God doth it for the preserving and manifestation of the glorious order of his kingdom. God is pleased to rule his creation as a supreme Lord and King. Hence there is so often mention made in the Scripture that he is the King, the only Potentate, the Lord of lords and King of kings; as also of his throne, his kingdom, dominion, reign, and government. And God doth this, that he might thereby give an understanding of his sovereignty unto his creatures, and make way thereby for the manifestation of his glory. Now, unto a kingdom there are three things essential, rule, obedience, and order. In this kingdom, the sovereign rule is in the hand of God alone; the kingdom or monarchy is his. Obedience is the work and duty of the whole creation, every thing according to its nature, capacity, and condition. The glory of both these lies in order. Hereof there are two parts: — first, That which respects the being of the creatures in their dependence on God; secondly, That which respects their operation in obedience unto him God hath in infinite wisdom endowed the works of his hands with such various natures, whereon their uses do depend, as that they are placed thereby in several ranks, series, and orders, in a useful subserviency unto one another, so far as they are advantaged thereby in their common and absolute subjection to himself. This is the order of their being. The order of their operation is such as they are fitted for by their natures, and whereby they set out the glory of this kingdom of God. Thus he takes the angels, being fitted thereunto by that place which they hold in the order of nature and being, unto the next and immediate attendance upon the throne of his kingdom. There they wait upon him, to receive and execute his commands in all the affairs of his kingdom. So are they everywhere described in the Scripture, Psalms 68, , 103; Daniel 7; Revelation 5; Isaiah 6, and elsewhere. And by this ministry of angels doth God intimate unto us the glory and order of his kingdom, his glorious and fiery throne being attended with millions of these mighty angels, ready to accomplish his will. And whereas God hath erected “imperium in imperio,” “a kingdom in a kingdom,” like the wheels within the wheels in Ezekiel’s vision, namely, the economical, dispensatory kingdom of Christ in his oecumenical kingdom over the whole creation, and hath annexed thereunto the principal manifestation of his glory, rule, and dominion, those blessed ministers do principally attend the affairs thereof. And thus, though God can govern and dispose of all things “solo nutu,” by the almighty, immediate emanations of his own power, yet, for the manifestation of the glory of his kingdom, especially of that rule which is committed unto the Lord Christ, he useth the ministry of his creatures, in that order which his infinite wisdom had disposed them unto at their first creation.

2. God is pleased to do this to exercise the obedience of the angels themselves; and that upon a threefold account: —

First, To keep, preserve, and rule them fitly to their state and condition. Being creatures, they have a natural and necessary dependence on God their creator; and being intellectual creatures, they have a moral dependence on him, according to a law and rule, with reference unto the utmost end whereunto they were created. This requires their constant obedience unto the will of God, without which they leave and forsake the law of their creation and condition, and also deviate from the end for which they were made. Wherefore, to exercise them unto and in this their obedience, God makes use of their ministry and service in his government of the church. And this they shall continue to do unto the end of the world, when, the course of their obedience being accomplished, they shall be everlastingly satiated with the contemplation of God’s infinite excellencies, and enjoyment of him as their reward.

Secondly, That in them he might give an example of ready obedience unto the church. These angels of God, being in their nature excellent, and great in power, always ready, watchful, and free from all diversions or avocations, eminent in light and holiness, as always beholding the face of God, and filled with his grace, are proposed unto us, in their obedience and readiness to do the will of God, as an example and pattern which we are to imitate unto our utmost, though we are never able perfectly to express. And thence are we directed by our Savior to pray that we may do the will of God on earth as it is done by them in heaven.

Thirdly, That they themselves may be made partakers of this singular honor and glory, to serve the most high God in his most glorious work, the preservation and salvation of his church; for that this is their honor was before declared.

3. God employeth them in an especial manner in this ministry, for the good of them that are heirs of salvation, to manifest unto them the greatness and glory of the work of the gathering, preserving, and redemption of his church, with the value that he puts upon all the fruits of the death and concernments of the mediation of his Son Jesus Christ: for as of themselves they desire to look particularly into these things, which in general appear so glorious unto them, 1 Peter 1:12, that their delight in the wisdom and love of God may be more and more increased; so by God’s dealings with his church, in whose behalf they are employed, they learn therein “the manifold wisdom of God,” and riches of his grace, Ephesians 3:10. And thus in all their employment about the saints, wherein they are sent out to minister for their good, they learn much of the wisdom and love of God; and are thereby excited to honor, applaud, glorify, and praise him. Somewhat of this they shall see in the least and meanest work toward any believer that is committed unto them. And they eternally rejoice in the overflowings of the love and grace of God, taking care of all the concernments of the poorest and meanest of his servants.

4. This is done that God may in an especial manner give glory and honor unto Jesus Christ thereby. This is his will, “that all men should honor the Son, as they honor the Father,” John 5:23. He hath therefore raised him up, and given him honor and glory, and in particular exalted him far above the angels, putting them in subjection unto him, as their head, prince, ruler, and governor, Ephesians 1:20-22. Neither is it a show of glory, or a titular kingdom and dominion, that he hath given to Jesus Christ, but a real and absolute sovereignty, wherein all things subject unto him are at his absolute disposal; and therefore must the angels themselves be at his service in the affairs of his kingdom; and so they acknowledge themselves to be, and the fellow-servants of them that keep his testimony, Revelation 19:10. Now, the heart and love of Jesus Christ is greatly set upon that part of his church or people which are laboring with sin, affliction, and persecution here below, Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 4:15. It is, then, greatly for his honor and glory (which in all things the Father aimeth at, Colossians 1:18-19) that the glorious angels should be employed for the good and in the behalf of all his poor laboring saints. This honor is done to Jesus Christ in heaven, when all the attendants of the throne of God do see the care that is taken about the meanest that believe in him.

5. The love, and care, and condescension of God unto his saints are hereby manifested unto the saints themselves. God employeth the angels for their good, that they may know how he careth for them, and be comforted thereby, Psalms 90:11. The saints of God have mean and low thoughts of themselves, — as it becomes them to have. They know and confess that they are less than all the mercies of God, and unworthy that he should have any regard of them. Such thoughts as these their mean terrene condition, and their manifold sins and failings, do fill them withal. Of the glorious angels their thoughts and apprehensions are high and honorable. Their nature, their state and condition, their power and greatness, their holiness, and enjoyment of the presence of God, do all present them unto their minds under a notion of much excellency and glory. Hence some weak, superstitious, and curious minds, have been drawn to adore them with religious worship and adoration. The saints know sufficiently the folly hereof. But yet, when they consider that God is pleased to use, employ, and send out these glorious spirits, to take care of them, to do them good, to watch over them and round about them, to keep them from evil, this fills them as with a holy admiration of the infinite love and condescension of God towards them, so also of the excellency of the mediation of the Lord Christ, who hath brought them into this condition of favor; from both which much spiritual comfort and rejoicing in the Lord do arise. And for this end also doth God choose to do that mediately, by the ministry of angels, which otherwise, by an inconceivable facility, he could do by his own immediate power.

6. A blessed intercourse, society, communion, and fellowship is maintained and kept up between the several parts of the family of God, — that of angels above, and this of believers below. It hath been formerly declared how the angels in heaven and all elect believers were reduced into one family, when God reconciled the things in heaven and earth unto himself, and brought them all into subjection unto and dependence upon one common head, Christ Jesus, Ephesians 1:10. From hence are angels and men reduced into one family, the family in heaven and earth; the angels by transition, men by adoption. Now it is the will of God, that, for the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ, the immediate head of this family, there should be an intercourse and a helpful communion between the several parts of it; for to this end are we brought into the society of the “innumerable company of angels,” Hebrews 12:22. Now, because our goodness, our usefulness, our helpfulness, are confined and limited unto the “saints that are on the earth,” Psalms 16:2-3, not extending itself unto God, or any of his holy ones above, we cannot help, assist, counsel, nor advise the angels; nor do they in any thing stand in need of our aid or assistance. And since the communication of our minds unto them, by way of religious subjection, adoration, faith, trust, affiance, is absolutely forbidden unto us, it remaineth that this fellowship and society must be maintained by the aid, help, and assistance which they are able to afford unto us, and which we stand in need of. And on this account doth God employ them about the affairs and concernments of believers, that so a becoming fellowship may be kept up in the family of Christ, and a usefulness between the several parts thereof. 7. God makes use of the ministry of angels in the service of the church to reproach, awe, restrain, and torment the devil. It is a continual reproach cast upon Satan, when he sees those unto whom he is like in nature, and with whom he was some time a companion in glory, willingly, cheerfully, triumphantly obeying the will of God in the service of Christ; having by his wickedness cast out himself from the same honorable employment, and mancipated himself to the vilest services that any part of the creation of God is cast down unto. The whole work of the angels is a continual reproach unto Satan for his sin and folly. It cries unto him, ‘This might have been thy work, this might have been thy condition;’the gnawing of which consideration is no small part of his torment and present restless vexation. They also put an awe upon him in all his attempts. He knows well their power, their authority, their commission, and that it is not for him to contend with them. With one word they can at any time defeat him: “The Lord rebuke thee, Satan; the Lord rebuke thee.” And he knows not where he may meet with them in his attempts. And this keeps him in continual awe and perpetual uncertainty of success in all that he undertakes or goes about. And hereby God also in many things frustrates his endeavors, restrains his power, and disappoints his malice. It is inconceivable what havoc he would make of the lives, and liberties, and estates of the saints, did not these watchers from the Holy One disappoint him. And all these things add to his torment. Much of his present punishment consists in the endless workings of wrath, envy, malice, blood-thirstiness, and rage. Now, as these, wherever they are found but in the least degree, are tormenting passions, so where they are all in their height, rage, and fury, and are not by any considerable vent abated or slacked, what can be worse in hell itself but only the immediate wrath of God? But thus it is with Satan from this ministry of angels. He sees the church and every member of it, all whom he seeks to devour, encamped about, protected, and defended by this heavenly host, so that he cannot in any measure have his will of them; nay, that he cannot touch the soul of any one of them, nor cause a hair of the head of any one of them to perish. This fills him with self-devouring rage, envy, and wrath. And thus doth God by this way accomplish his judgment upon him.

And these are some of the reasons which the Scripture intimates unto us why the Lord is pleased thus to make use of the ministry of angels; which may suffice for an answer to the first question before proposed. The SECOND is, Unto what ends and purposes doth God make use of the ministry of angels for the good of them that do believe?

The thing itself we suppose in both these questions. It is so directly asserted in the words of the apostle, and so many instances are given of it elsewhere in the Scripture, that it needs not any especial confirmation. It will also be further declared in our enumeration of the ends and purposes of it ensuing; as, —

1. In general, God doth it to communicate by them the effects of his care and love unto the church by Jesus Christ. This God represented unto Jacob in the vision that he gave him of the ladder which stood upon the earth, and whose top reached unto heaven, Genesis 28:12-13; for although the Jews say somewhat to the purpose when they affirm this ladder to have denoted the dependence of all things here below on them above, under the rule of the providence of God, yet they say not all that was signified thereby. Our Savior tells us, John 1:51, that hereafter his disciples should see “heaven open, and angels ascending and descending upon the Son of man,” — plainly alluding unto this vision of Jacob: for these words ἐπὶ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, “upon the Son of man,” cannot denote merely the object of angelical ministration, that they should be exercised in their work about his person; but also that by him, by means of his mediation, the angels ascend and descend in the work of ministering unto the saints. It is true, the great instance of their ministry was given in and about the person of Christ, as head of the church. They declared his conception and nativity, Matthew 1:20-21; Luke 1:35; Luke 2:10-14; — they ministered unto him after his temptation, Matthew 4:11; — they strengthened him in his agony, Luke 22:43; — they were witnesses of his resurrection and ascension, Luke 24:4, Acts 1:10-11. But by him and on his account they perform the offices of their mission towards others also, even all the heirs of salvation, but this still upon the account of Christ. They ascend and descend on his mediation, sent by his authority, aiming at his glory, doing his work, carrying on his interest, as in the following particulars will appear: for, —

1. They are sent in an extraordinary manner to make revelations of the will of God, about things tending unto the obedience and spiritual advantage of them that do believe. Hereof we have many instances in the Old Testament, especially in God’s dealing with the patriarchs before the giving of the law. For although the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God himself, did often appear unto them, — as to Abraham, Genesis 18:1-2, with Genesis 19:24; and unto Jacob, Genesis 32:24, whom he calls המַּלְאַךְ הַנּאֵֹל, Genesis 48:16; — yet God also made frequent use of created angels in the revelation and discovery of his mind and will unto them, as is evident from many passages in their story. That he used their ministration in the giving of the law we have before abundantly showed, the Holy Ghost declaring and affirming it, Psalms 68:17-18; Acts 7:53. The like also he continued to do in the visions of them granted unto the prophets that ensued unto the end of that dispensation, especially unto Ezekiel and Zechariah. So also the same was done under the New Testament, as, to omit others, we have an especial instance, Revelation 1:1. How far God is pleased to continue this ministration of angels unto this day is hard to determine: for as many have pretended unto revelations by angels, which have been mere delusions of Satan or imaginations of their own brains, so to say that God doth not or may not send his angels unto any of his saints, to communicate his mind unto them as to some particulars of their own duty, according unto his word, or to foreshow unto them somewhat of his own approaching work, seems, in my judgment, unwarrantably to limit the Holy One of Israel. Howbeit such things in particular are to be duly weighed with sobriety and reverence.

2. God by them suggests good motions unto the minds of his saints. As the devil sets himself on work to tempt them unto evil, by suggestions suited unto the principle of sin within them, so God employs his holy angels to provoke them to that which is good, by suggesting that unto them which is suitable unto the principle of spiritual life and grace that is in them And as it is difficult to discover the suggestions of Satan in most cases from the workings of our own minds and our unbelief in them; partly because of their connaturalness one to the other, and partly because his impressions are not sensible, nor produce any effects but as they mix themselves with our own darkness and lusts: so it is no less difficult distinctly to take notice of these angelical motions, upon the like account on the other hand; for being suitable unto the inclinations of that principle of grace which is in the hearts of believers, and producing no effect but by them, they are hardly discerned. So that we may have the benefit of many angelical suggestions of good things which we ourselves take no notice of. And if it be inquired how these good motions from angels are or may be distinguished from the motions of the Holy Ghost, and his actings in believers, I answer, that they are differenced sundry ways; as, —

(1.) These angelical motions are “ab extra,” from without. Angels have no inbeing in us, no residence in our souls, but work upon us as an external principle; whereas the Holy Spirit abideth with us, and dwelleth in us, and works “ab intra,” from within the very principles of our souls and minds Whence it follows,

(2.) That these angelical motions consist in occasional impressions on the mind, fancy, and imagination, by advantages taken from outward objects and present disposition of the mind, rendering it meet to receive such impressions, and so disposing it to affect the heart, the will, and the affections; whereas the Holy Ghost closeth in his operations with all the faculties of the soul, really and immediately exciting every one of them to gracious actings, according to their nature and quality. Whence also it appears,

(3.) That angelical motions communicate no strength, power, or ability unto men to act, do, or perform the good which they guide and direct unto; only, they provoke and stir up men to act and exert the strength which they have in the duties that they are minded of; but the Holy Ghost in his motions doth really communicate spiritual grace, strength, and power unto the faculties of the soul, enabling them unto a right performance of the duties proposed unto them. And,

(4.) Whereas angelical impressions are transient, and abide not at all in themselves, but only in the effects which the mind warned and excited by them doth produce, there is a constant, abiding, effectual work of the Holy Ghost in the hearts of believers, enabling them to will and to do according unto his good pleasure. And this is a second part of the ministry of angels in particular, the benefit whereof we are oftener made partakers of than perhaps we are aware. And these motions, which are an effect of their ministry, the Sadducees of old took to be angels, denying all spiritual subsistences from whom they should proceed.

3. God sends forth his angels unto this ministry for the good of believers, to preserve them from many dangers and ruinous casualties that would otherwise befall them. Much of the design of Psalms 91 is to acquaint us therewithal; for though the charge of angels is expressed only in Psalms 91:11-12, yet as the expression there, of keeping us in all our ways, that we stumble not, is comprehensive of all the dangers which we are or may be exposed unto, so this same work of theirs respects all the evils and casualties enumerated in the beginning of the psalm. And to this purpose also is it said that the angel of the Lord encampeth about them that fear him, as they did about Elisha of old, — namely, to preserve them from the dangers that they are exposed unto. Nor is this impeached by the observation of the evils, troubles, calamities, and miseries that befall the people of God; for God hath not given his angels a commission to act “ad ultimum virium,” to the utmost of their strength, “viis et modis,” for the preservation of his, but only to act according to his especial good pleasure; and this they always do. Now, it is the will of God that his saints should be exercised with various troubles and calamities, for the trial of their faith and obedience. But yet, in the ordering and management of these calamitous accidents or troubles, they have no less benefit by the ministry of angels than they have in respect of those from which they are preserved by them; for inasmuch as they also are designed and ordered for their good, their exposing to them in their seasons, supportment under them during their continuance, and deliverance from them in the appointed time thereof, are all signal mercies which they receive by the ministry of angels.

4. By this ministry of angels doth God in particular preserve us from the sudden and violent incursions of Satan. Satan in the Scripture is called a serpent, from his subtlety and lying in wait to do mischief; and a lion, from his rage, and fury, and spoiling from his lurking-places. And as the one or the other he continually seeks the harm, mischief, and ruin of the whole man; not only of our souls, in sin and desert of punishment, but of our bodies, in our lives, health, and welfare. Hence we find so many in the Gospel troubled with bodily infirmities from the assaults and impressions of Satan. And what he prevails to do against any one, that he is continually attempting against all the whole seed of Abraham. Hereunto also belong all those hurtful terrors, affrightments, and surprisals, which he endeavoreth by himself and his agents to cast upon us. Had he his liberty, he would make our whole lives to be filled with disappointments, horrors, vain fears, and perplexities, if he could proceed no further. Now in all these designs it is more than probable that he is prevented by the ministry of angels. We find, in the 1st of Job, that in all the devil’s walks in the earth for the executing of his malice, the angels still observe him, and are ready to answer him when he comes with his accusations against the saints into the presence of the Lord. And hereon depends the safety and security of our lives, without which Satan would by all means continually attempt to fill them with terrors, vexations, losses, and troubles. Not one of us should escape him any better than Job did, when God for a season suspended his protection over his relations, possessions, and enjoyments.

5. They are in their ministry appointed to be witnesses of the obedience, sufferings, and worship of the disciples of Christ, that they may give testimony unto them before God, and in the great assembly of the last day; so glorifying God for the grace bestowed upon them and the assistance afforded unto them. Thus Paul tells us that the apostles in their preaching and sufferings were made “a spectacle unto angels,” 1 Corinthians 4:9. The holy angels of God looked on, rejoicing to behold how gloriously they acquitted themselves in the work and ministry committed unto them. And to this end doth he charge Timothy before “the elect angels” to look unto and discharge aright the work of an evangelist, 1 Timothy 5:21, because they were appointed of God to be witnesses of his faithfulness and diligence therein. And it is not improbable but he hath respect unto the presence of angels in the assemblies of the saints for the worship of God, where he enjoins modesty and sobriety unto women in them on their account, 1 Corinthians 11:10. And from that particular instance a general rule may be drawn for the observation of comeliness and order in all our assemblies, — namely, from the presence of these holy witnesses at all our solemn worship; for church-assemblies are the court, the dwelling- place, the throne of Jesus Christ, and therefore in them he is in an especial manner attended by these glorious ministers of his presence. And therefore, although a holy regard unto God and our Lord Jesus Christ himself be the first and principal motive unto a right and holy acquitment of ourselves in all our obedience, sufferings, and worship, yet in subordination thereunto we may have also respect unto the angels, as those who are employed by him to be witnesses of our ways and carriage, — such a respect, I mean, as may administer occasion unto them to glorify God in Christ on our behalf, that so all the honor may finally redound unto him alone.

6. God useth the ministry of angels to avenge his elect of their enemies and persecutors, to render unto them a recompense and vengeance even in this world, in the due and appointed season. Thus by an angel he destroyed the army of Sennacherib, when he intended and threatened the destruction of Jerusalem; and by an angel he smote Herod, in the midst of his pride and persecution, Acts 12. And this ministry of theirs is in an especial manner pointed unto in several places of the Revelation, where the judgments of God are foretold to be executed on the persecutors of the world. And this work they wait for in a holy admiration of the patience of God towards many a provoking generation, and are in a continual readiness to discharge it unto the uttermost when they shall receive their commission so to do, Daniel 7.

7. They carry the souls departed into Abraham’s bosom, Luke 16:22.

8. Lastly, The ministry of angels respects the general resurrection and day of judgment. The Lord Christ is everywhere described coming to judgment at the last day attended with all his holy and glorious angels, Matthew 24:31; Matthew 25:31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8; Jude 1:14-15. And great shall be their work towards the elect in that day, when the Lord Christ “shall be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe;” for although the work of the resurrection, like that of the creation, is to be effect by the immediate operation of almighty power, without the interveniency of any secondary, finite agents, limited in their power and operation, yet many things preparatory thereunto and consequent thereon shall be committed unto the ministry of angels. By them are the signs and tokens of it to be proclaimed unto the world; to them is the sounding of the last trumpet and general summons given out unto all flesh to appear before Jesus Christ committed, with all the glorious solemnity of the judgment itself. And as they bear and accompany the departing souls of the saints into the receptacles of their rest in heaven, so doubtless also shall they accompany them in their joyful return unto their beloved old habitations, By them also will the Lord Christ gather them together from all parts wherein their redeemed bodies have been reduced into dust; and so also at length by them bring all the heirs of salvation triumphantly into the full possession of their inheritance.

And thus much may suffice to have spoken about the ministry of angels, here mentioned by the apostle; by all which it further appears how neither in their nature nor their office they are any way to be compared with the Son of God in his ministry towards the church. Some deductions also, for our special use and instruction, may here be added from what hath been spoken; as, —

1. That we ought to be very careful to use sobriety in our speculations and meditations about this matter. Herein doth the caution of the apostle take place in an especial manner, that we should be wise unto sobriety, Romans 12:3, and not to think ourselves wise above that which is written. This some neglecting of old, and endeavoring to intrude themselves into the things which they had not seen, Colossians 2:18, — that is, boasting of the knowledge and acquaintance with angels, which they had no ground for nor any safe instruction in, — fell into pride, curiosity, superstition, and idolatry, as the apostle in that place declareth. And almost in all ages of the church men have failed on this account. The curiosity of the Jews we did in some measure before manifest. To them in their imaginations succeeded the Gnostics, whose portentous aeons and genealogies of inferior deities, recounted by Irenaeus, Origen, Tertullian, Epiphanius, and others of the ancients, were nothing but wicked and foolish imaginations about angels. Unto them succeeded those about the beginning of the fourth century, who flatly worshipped angels, and had conventicles, or private meetings, for that purpose, who are expressly condemned in the 35th canon of the council of Laodicea, anno 364, in these words:

῝οτι οὐ δεῖ χριστιανοὺς ἐγκαταλείπειν τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ ἀπιέναι, καὶ ἀγγέλους ὀςομάζειν καὶ συνάξεις ποιεῖν, ἅπερ ἀπαγορεύεται· εἴ τις ου῏ν εὐρεθῇ ταύτῃ τῇ κεκρυμμένῃ εἰδωλολατρείᾳ σχολάζων ἔστω ἀςάθεμα· ὅτι ἐγκατέλιπε τὸν κύριον ἠμῶν ᾿ιησοῦν κριστὸν τὸν ψἱόν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ εἰδωλολατρίᾳ προσῆλθον·

wherein they plainly adjudge that practice to be idolatry and apostasy from Jesus Christ. After these, about the end of the fourth or beginning of the fifth century, he vented his curious speculations about their hierarchy, orders, and operations, who personated Dionysius the Areopagite; of whom we spake before. From them all did that sink of idolatry, superstition, and heresies, the church of Rome, derive her present speculations, adoration, worship, and invocation of angels. But as these things are all of them without, beside, and against the word in general, so they are in particular expressly prejudged and condemned by the apostle, in the place to the Colossians before mentioned. And of such kind of needless, useless, unprofitable, dangerous speculations we are to beware; and many of them I could in particular recite, but that I would not teach them unto any by condemning them before all. But yet, —

2. Danger should not deter us from duty. Because some have miscarried in this matter, we ought not therefore wholly to neglect it, there being so great a concernment of the glory of God and our own good enwrapped therein. Had others erred or wandered indeed, because they had neither way to walk in nor guide to attend unto, it had been sufficient to restrain us from attempting any thing in this matter; but whereas it is evident that they wilfully neglected the way, or pressed farther than the paths of it led them, and despised their guide, following their own imagination instead thereof, shall others be discouraged in their duty, whereas they may avoid their miscarriages? Wary, indeed, this may and ought to make us in our inquiries, but not neglective of our duties. We have the word of God for our way and guide. If we go not besides it, if we go not beyond it, we are as safe when we treat of angels as if we treated of worms. We have seen in part of what signal use their ministry is as unto our good, and the glory of Jesus Christ. And it is pride to the height, not to inquire after what may be known, because there are many things that we may not know nor comprehend. If that take place, it will debar us from all search into the mysteries of the gospel; for upon our utmost attainment we know but in part. God’s revelation is the object of our knowledge. So far as that is made and given, so far we may inquire and learn. Besides, it is the height of ingratitude, not to search after what may be known of this great privilege and mercy whereof we are made partakers in the ministry of angels. God hath neither appointed nor revealed it for nothing; he expects a revenue of praise and glory for it; but how can we bless him for it when we know nothing of it? This ministry of angels, then, is that which, with sobriety, we are in a way of duty to inquire into.

3. Let us on this account glorify God and be thankful. Great is the privilege, manifold are the blessings and benefits, that we are made partakers of by this ministry of angels Some of them have been before recounted. What shall we render for them? and to whom? Shall we go and bow ourselves down to the angels themselves, and pay our homage of obedience unto them? They all cry out with one accord, “See you do it not; we are your fellow-servants.” What shall we do then? Why, say they, “Worship God.” Glorify and praise him who is the God of all angels, who sends them, who employs them, unto whom they minister in all that they do for us. Let us bless God, I say, for the ministry of angels.

Moreover, these words afford us other instructions, which I shall only name, and put a close unto our discourses on this chapter; as, —

III. The Socratical fancy of one single guardian angel attending every one, as it is, if admitted, a real impeachment of the consolation of believers, so a great inducement unto superstition and idolatry. The further evidencing of this truth I remit unto what hath been already delivered about the ministry of angels in general.

IV. Believers obtain heaven by inheritance and free gift of their Father, and not by any merit of their own. Heirs among men claim their inheritance “jure nascendi,” because they are born unto it, not because they deserve it better than others. Believers look for theirs “jure adoptionis,” by right of adoption, whereby they become sons, heirs of God, and co-heirs with Jesus Christ.


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Bibliography
Owen, John. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "John Owen Exposition of Hebrews". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/joc/hebrews-1.html. 1862.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

ministering. Greek. leitourgikos. Only here. Compare Hebrews 1:7 and App-191.

sent forth. Greek. apoatello. App-174.

to minister = for (Greek. eis) ministry (Greek. diakonia. App-190.)

for = on account of. Greek. dia. App-104. Hebrews 1:2.

shall be heirs = are about to inherit; Compare Hebrews 1:4.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/hebrews-1.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Ministering spirits - Hebrews 1:7, "spirits, and his ministers" Incorporeal spirits, as God, but ministering to Him as inferiors.

Sent forth , [ apostellomena (Greek #649)] - 'being sent forth' continually, as their regular service in all ages.

To minister , [ eis (Greek #1519) diakonian (Greek #1248)] - 'unto (i:e., for) ministry.'

For them , [ dia (Greek #1223) tous (Greek #3588)] - 'for the sake of them,' etc. Angels are sent forth on ministrations to God and Christ, not primarily to men, though for the good of 'those who are about to inherit salvation' [ mellontas (Greek #3195) kleeronomein (Greek #2816) sooteerian (Greek #4991)]: the elect, for whom all things, angels included, work together for good (Romans 8:28). Angels' ministrations are not properly to men, since the latter cannot command them, though their ministrations to God are often for the good of men. So the superiority of the Son of God to angels is shown. They "all," however various their ranks, minister; He is ministered to. They "stand" (Luke 1:19) before God, or are "sent forth" to execute His commands on behalf of them whom He pleases to save; He sits "on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 1:13). He rules; they serve.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/hebrews-1.html. 1871-8.

The Bible Study New Testament

What are angels, men? "Rather than ruling as kings over this Universe, angels are spirits who serve God, and are sent to help those who are to receive eternal life." Note the contrast: Christ rules; angels serve. MacKnight says: "The apostle does not say minister to, but for them, etc. The angels are ministers [servants] who belong to Christ, not to men, though employed by him for the benefit of men. Therefore this passage affords no ground for believing that every heir of salvation has a guardian angel assigned to him. Of the ministry of angels for the benefit of the heirs of salvation, we have many examples, both in the Old and in the New Testament."


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Bibliography
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "The Bible Study New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/hebrews-1.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(14) Are they not all ministering spirits?—In this verse and the preceding is repeated the contrast of Hebrews 1:7-9, in reversed order. The words “ministering spirits” at once recall the “ministers” and “winds” (expressed in Greek and Hebrew by the same word as “spirits”) spoken of in Hebrews 1:7. In the LXX. this word “minister” is usually applied to those who stood before God in His earthly sanctuary: so here it is fitly used of the nobler offices of the unseen world. To the English reader it may seem that those who in Hebrews 1:7 are God’s ministers are here represented as servants of man. It is not really so, for the words properly mean, . . . sent forth (that is, continually sent forth) to do service (to God), for the sake of them who are to inherit salvation. “Inherit” is a prelude of Hebrews 2:10. The last word, “salvation,” expresses the divine purpose indicated by all the prophecies that have passed under review. The chapter has been occupied with promises of the Christ: the last word brings before us Jesus, the Saviour.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/hebrews-1.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
ministering
8:6; 10:11; Psalms 103:20,21; Daniel 3:28; 7:10; Matthew 18:10; Luke 1:19,23; 2:9,13; Acts 13:2; Romans 13:6; 15:16,27; 2 Corinthians 9:12; Philippians 2:17,25; *Gr:; 1 Kings 22:19; Job 1:6; Psalms 103:20,21; 104:4; Isaiah 6:2,3; Daniel 7:10; Matthew 13:41,49,50; Luke 1:19; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Jude 1:14
sent
Genesis 19:15,16; 32:1,2,24; Acts 11:22; 1 Peter 1:12; Revelation 5:6
minister
Psalms 34:7; 91:11,12; Daniel 6:22; 9:21-23; 10:11,12; Matthew 1:20; 2:13; 24:31; Luke 16:22; Acts 5:19; 10:3,4; 12:7,23; 16:26; 27:23
heirs
6:12,17; Matthew 25:34; Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:7,9,29; Ephesians 3:6; Titus 3:7; James 2:5; 1 Peter 1:4; 3:7

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/hebrews-1.html.

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Unless the angels also are important beings, there would not be much significance in being made superior to them. Paul recognizes this point by the statement made here in question form. Angels are among the instruments or agencies which God uses, in his treatment of and care for His own. (Read the following passages. Genesis 24:7; Daniel 6:22; Matthew 2:13; Acts 12:11; Acts 27:23.)


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Bibliography
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/hebrews-1.html. 1952.

Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Are they not all ministering spirits...—This form of expression may imply that the thing asserted was known and admitted by the Hebrews; yet our belief of it does not rest on this foundation, but on the authority of the Apostle. The question implies no doubt, on the subject of inquiry; it is a strong mode of asserting a proposition. The existence of angels was believed by the Jews, with the exception of the Sadducees. We have many instances in the Old Testament of angels being employed to convey messages to men, and in defending the people of God. Such is not now visibly the case: we have no reason to expect an extraordinary message to be conveyed to us by angels, or that they shall visibly come to our aid; but it is well that we should know that all the angels are employed by our Lord to minister to the heirs of salvation. It may be asked, of what use is this ministry? Had the Lord any need of such agents as instruments in taking care of his people? Certainly not; but can anything more clearly prove the dignity of the saints? They are despised among men, yet all the angels in heaven wait on them. Many of God's people may be engaged in the meanest offices among men, yet they have a retinue of angels to watch over them.

Heirs of salvation.—The saints have their privileges, not by works of righteousness, but by inheritance. They are joint-heirs with Christ. Adam was the heir of the world, Genesis 1:28-29, but he lost his inheritance. The second Adam is appointed heir of all things, and the inheritance is secured by his love and power to all the children of promise. Those who are saved inherit glory, therefore salvation includes, not only deliverance from misery, but also the possession of glory. Here it signifies whatever the people of God shall enjoy throughout eternity.

Shall be.—Hence it appears that the ministering of the angels belongs to the heirs of salvation from the earliest period of their existence. It is said of Jeremiah ,—"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou earnest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." Jeremiah 1:5. The Lord separated Paul from his mother's womb, and no doubt the angels were employed in ministering to him while breathing out slaughter and threatening against the disciples of Christ.

Such is the introduction of this most instructive epistle. The Apostle begins by referring to the revelations which God had given by that succession of prophets who were raised up from the beginning. He had now spoken by His Song of Solomon , whom He had constituted heir of all things. By Him and for Him all the worlds were made. He is the image of the invisible God, and has revealed Him to us, clearly exhibiting his glorious perfections. Having, by offering the body which had been prepared for Him, cast the sins of His people into the depths of the sea, so that they should be no more remembered, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, denoting His absolute and universal dominion. He is the Judge of the quick and the dead, to whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. The name which He inherited, and which in its proper sense exclusively belongs to Him, was far more glorious than the name given to the angels. To none of them had God said,

Thou art my Song of Solomon , this day have I begotten thee. He had described none of them as standing to Him in the relation of a Son. On the contrary, when He foretold the appearance of the first-begotten, the Lord and heir of all, He commanded all the angels of God to worship Him.

The angels are described as executing His will with the rapidity of winds and the resistless power of the lightnings; but the Son is addressed as God sitting on his eternal throne, and as a King reigning in righteousness. He humbled himself, so that, although he was truly God, the Father stood to Him in the relation of His God; and, lest this should derogate from His innate dignity, He is described as the Creator of all things, who, amidst all their mutations, abideth ever the same. Once more, which of the angels was ever invited to sit at God's right hand until their enemies were made their footstool? So far from their being thus honored, they are all only ministering spirits, sent forth by their glorious Head to minister to the heirs of salvation.


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Bibliography
Haldane, Robert. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:14". "Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans and Hebrews". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hal/hebrews-1.html. 1835.

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