“He has inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did [God] ever say, ‘Thou are My Son, today I have begotten Thee’? And again, ‘I will be a Father to Him and He shall be a Son to Me’?” (Heb. 1:4-5).
Jesus is better than the angels because He is more than a created messenger—He is God’s eternal Son.
Angels are “ministering spirits, sent out to render service” (v. 14). A son, of course, is superior to a servant (cf. Luke 15:19). In the ancient near east, a son was deemed fully equal to his father in privilege and equally worthy of honor. When Jesus called God His own Father, people correctly understood that He was “making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18).
Of course, no mere angel (or any other created being) could ever make such a claim.
Do the words “today” and “begotten” in Psalm 2:7 imply that this happened at some point in time? No. The context makes that impossible. Hebrews 1 is about the singularity and superiority of Christ as God. The writer declares repeatedly that Jesus is God—the One who “upholds all things by the word of His power” (v. 2). Even the Father addresses Him as “God” and says the Son is eternal (v. 8).
“Begotten” therefore cannot mean that the Son was brought into existence. “He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:2). He is the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8).
Moreover, “the decree” mentioned in Psalm 2:7 can only be the eternal decree of God (His ageless, immutable plan and purpose)—and “today” must refer to the timeless era of eternity past.
For the next several days, we’ll see in what ways Christ is superior to angels and how He could mediate a better covenant for us.
That means in some ineffable way, Jesus is eternally begotten by the Father and is therefore of the same essence. “Son” is not a title He took on or a role He assumed; it is who He is: “the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18)—namely, “the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father” (1:18).
Suggestion for Prayer
Thank God for His amazing plan to redeem man through the incarnation of His only begotten Son.
For Further Study
The apostle John refers to Christ as the Father’s “only begotten” (Greek: monogenes) in John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9. Note how his very first use of the expression makes clear that it applies to Christ’s deity, not his humanity.
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187