- Locate the Passage
1:5-14 is the second paragraph in the letter. It modifies, via a string of seven Old Testament quotations, the claim that Jesus, as Son, is superior to the angels (from v. 4). The seven quotations are Ps 2:7; 2 Sam 7:14; Deut 32:43; Ps 104:4; 45:6–7; 102:25–27; 110:1.
Expository. There are no imperatives or imperatival constructions.
- Determine the Structure of the Passage
Hebrews 1:5–14 is one paragraph that falls structurally into three sub-paragraphs: vv. 5–6, vv. 7–12, and vv. 13–14. These are clearly marked in the text by the author’s use of introductory quotation formulae in v. 5, v. 7 and v. 13. Each of the three paragraphs has as its main point the contrast of the Son with angels.
- Exegete the Passage
Note the parallel rhetorical introduction of v. 5 and v. 13: “to which of the angels did God ever say.” There is a semantic relationship between the first quotation (Ps 2:7) in v. 5 and the last quotation (Ps 110:1) in v. 13 since both Psalm 2 and Psalm 110 are coronation psalms. These quotations are parallel to the first and last statements about the Son in the prologue: “heir of all things” (1:2b), and “he sat down at the right hand” (1:3c).
Note the quotation formulae used in introducing these Old Testament quotations: rather than the usual “it is written,” the author uses the verb “to say” in three different tenses in Greek—aorist (v. 5), present (vv. 6, 7), and perfect (v. 13). This is in keeping with the author’s emphasis on the Scripture as divine speech and its present impact, though the actual words were spoken centuries earlier. It is also in keeping with the statement that God has “spoken” his final word in his Son, Jesus (1:2).
Note that the quotations correspond roughly to the seven statements that are made about the Son in the prologue.
Note in v. 8 that the Son is addressed as “God,” thus affirming the full deity of Jesus and the author’s point that Jesus is a member of the Godhead.
Help for exegesis can be found in Neva Miller, The Epistle to the Hebrews: An Analytical and Exegetical Handbook (Dallas, TX: Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1988), 15-30; J. Harold Greenlee, An Exegetical Summary of Hebrews (Dallas, TX: Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1998), 21-40; David L. Allen, Hebrews, NAC (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2010), 161-88.
- Let the Structure of the text drive the structure of the sermon
This is a tricky paragraph to preach since it is a series of Old Testament quotations. The main point of the text is the superiority of the Son to the angels since Jesus’ relationship to God the Father is that of “Son,” while the relationship of the angels to God is that of created beings who are servants.
Since there are three sub-paragraphs, each of which develops the concept of the superiority of the Son to the angels, it is probably best to structure the sermon in three parts (5-6), (7-12), (13-14). In each section, point out the relationship of the Son to the Father and to the angels.
Connect the text to the theme of the preceding paragraph: Jesus is God’s final revelation by virtue of who he is and what he has done.