Hebrews 1:5-14 The Exaltation, Presentation, And Enthronement Of The Son.
As noted in the introduction, this passage forms part of the preamble contained in the first two chapters, to the covenant herein being renewed. In every covenant document, and in the covenant relationship itself, the preamble is the occasion to present the Lord of the covenant and His credentials. Of course, the Lord of the new covenant is the Lord Jesus Christ, but our author keys in on His status as the Son in particular. Our author will shortly proceed to explain the presentation-exaltation-and enthronement of the covenant Lord (1:5ff), but before he did so he set the stage in the first sentence of the letter. In the first sentence we find the Son’s credentials and now we have the formal enthronement ceremony.
Richard R. DeRidder, in his ‘Discipling the Nations’, noted the hymnic catena structure of this passage. “Scholars such as O. Michel, J. Jeremias, E. Kasemann, E. Lohmeyer have given detailed attention to the teaching of the New Testament regarding the enthronization of Jesus Christ. They have also shown that the New Testament data must be understood against the background of Dan. 7:9-14. Daniel has a vision of God in heaven, where “the court sat in judgment and the books were opened” (vss. 10, 26). The Son of Man and the vindicated saints of the Most High receive an everlasting kingdom (vss. 13-14). This service of the nations to the Son of Man is part of his enthronement.” (pp. 170-171)
DeRidder also adds that this particular passage also follows an oriental enthronement pattern which included three elements: “(1) exaltation, (2) presentation (or declaration of exaltation), (3) enthronement (or the transfer of dominion). These elements, found in parallel coronation hymns and ritual among the Egyptians, are clearly traceable in varied New Testament passages.” (Ibid. p. 171) This can be seen in the hymnic fragment in I Tim. 3:16 where we have the Son’s (1) exaltation-“God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels,” (2) presentation-“preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world,” and (3) enthronement-“received up in glory.”
As in the passage at hand, the hymnic fragment of I Tim. 3:16, also refers to angels in the context of the Glory-Presence. As noted in the introduction, much of the structure and content of this letter is quite confusing if one misses the structure of new covenant renewal and old covenant lawsuit. A case in point is the introduction of angels. Angels are introduced here because they surround the throne of the Glory-Presence, and it is to this throne that the Son, the covenantal heir, has been exalted! We find this very same structure in Phil. 2:9-11. (1) Exaltation-v. 9a “exalted” (2) presentation-v. 9b “the name which is above every name” (3) enthronement-vv. 10-11 “to the glory of God the Father.”
“Lohmeyer in reference to Philippians 2:9 has shown that “the exaltation has to do with the cosmic lordship of Christ who is installed as Lord of the universe and not simply as cultic Lord of the church.” He believes that the second part of this hymn must be placed in a soteriological setting: Christ is Lord over all the world, and it is through him that God works out his purpose. Christ becomes the “criterion and Judge of all history, and the arbiter of all destiny.” In this early Christian hymn the supreme name is bestowed on Jesus (and it is not diminished but enhanced in the process). For, when every tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord, this will be done “to the glory of God the Father.” (Ibid. p. 172)
1. Exaltation-vv. 5-6.
When we come to the passage at hand, we have more than simply the giving of glory to God the Father, here we are in fact presented with an enthronement which occurs in the very Glory-Presence in the throne room of heaven. In the process of making his case, the author will employ a hermeneutic of appealing to two or three witnesses to make his case. Since covenants involve a matter of life and death, this follows the pattern laid down by Moses in the law itself, an approach which Jesus and Paul also followed (Cf. Dt. 19:15; Mt. 18:16; II Cor. 13:1). The first two quotes of verse five confirm the fulfillment of His claim to be the Son. The first involves Psalm 2 (v. 7), and the submission of the nations that would come to the anointed Son.
The second quotation is from the last of the old covenant administrations of the covenant of grace, and the one which the Son was directly in succession to, namely the Davidic (II Sa. 7:14). So with these two verses our author shows that the Son is the rightful heir to the last of the old covenant administrations, and also that the nations were obligated to give Him His due. The promise of the Father here found fulfillment in the One called His Son, and only rightful heir to the very throne of heaven. This is also the direct testimony of the Father, in addition to the Spirit who inspired the additional human authors who were thus inspired! This also echoes the words which came from the Glory-cloud saying, “This is My Son” (Mt. 3:17 Cf. Mk. 1:11; Mt. 17:5; Lk. 9:35).
In the second couplet of verse six we have the worship and service of the angels to the One who has been thus exalted. There can be no doubt that our author’s readers had an inordinate fixation with the angels, so in this passage we find our author literally putting the angels in their place, a place of worshipping the Son who has been exalted to the right hand of the Father. The first quotation from the song of witness by Moses, speaks to their worship of the LORD on His throne (Dt. 32:43). This is a Dead Sea Scroll fragment (DSS) found in the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the O.T. The second quotation is found in Psalm 104:4, which speaks of the angels in the Glory-Presence.
2. Presentation-vv. 8-12
For His presentation the author appeals to the coronation hymn of a King, as we find at Psalm 45:6-7, and Psalm 102:25-27, where we find the LORD appearing in His glory, and all nations coming to Him in Zion, which He will restore (vv. 15-16). In both references the One presented is addressed as God, but it is also God who anointed Him to His office. Essentially, the Son is here presented as the One worthy to ascend to the throne, because He fulfilled the offices to which He had been anointed, and being addressed Himself as God, was also worthy of the worship thus due. In the first quotation we see that the Son fulfilled all righteousness according to the law, and as an eternal priest the offering of Himself would endure forever.
3. Enthronement-v. 13-14
Again we return to the angels, and again their inferiority to the Son is seen in that He as the Son of God is now enthroned at the right hand of the Father. For this final point we also have two references, the first as noted from Psalm 110:1 in verse 13, but also one from Psalm 103:20, where we read that the angels are servants of the Word (Cf. v. 21). With this we also come full circle with our beginning background of Daniel 7, for as we read in verse 10 of that chapter, “A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.”