A Series of Answers to Common Questions
According to Hebrews 1:8-9 Jesus as God has a God over him. Some Christians claim that Hebrews 1:8-9 is referring to Jesus humanity, that as a man he has a God over him. The only problem with this position is that it would imply that Jesus as a man is being called God, which means that his humanity is being deified. How do Christians get around all these problems?
Before we address these questions we need to first quote the verses within their entire context:
"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, You are my Son, today I have begotten you? Or again, I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, Let all God's angels worship him. Of the angels he says, He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire. But of the Son he says, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions. And, You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. Bt you are the same, and your years will have no end. And to which of the angels has he ever said, Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet? Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? Hebrews 1:1-14
From the foregoing we can see that the text is speaking of Jesus:
In other words, the entire chapter is a reflection on Jesus existence before he became a man, when he became a man, and after his resurrection and ascension into heaven.
In light of the preceding, it is quite evident that the author of Hebrews was commenting on the whole Christ event, that he was looking at Jesus entire career retrospectively. The author wasnt focusing so much on the natures of Christ, i.e. did Christ have one or two natures, was he God and man simultaneously etc., but on the various functions that he performed. The writer was speaking of the one eternal Person of Jesus from all his various activities, from his role as Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, and eternal King.
With the above in mind we can now address the specific objections. The first thing we need to realize is that Hebrews 1:8-9 is quoting Psalm 45:6-7, which is a Psalm composed in relation to the Davidic Kings wedding ceremony. Here is the entire Psalm so that the readers can see this for themselves:
"My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe. You are the most handsome of the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever. Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in your splendor and majesty! In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; let your right hand teach you awesome deeds! Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; the peoples fall under you. Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions; your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad; daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir. Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear: forget your people and your father's house, and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him. The people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts, the richest of the people. All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold. In many-colored robes she is led to the king, with her virgin companions following behind her. With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king. In place of your fathers shall be your sons; you will make them princes in all the earth. I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore nations will praise you forever and ever." Psalm 45:1-17
The author of Hebrews applied this text in reference to Jesus Messianic office, an office which he received by virtue of becoming a human descendant of king David after the Incarnation:
"And the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Luke 1:30-33
"concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord," Romans 1:3-4
Putting it in another way, the writer applied Psalm 45:6-7 to Jesus in reference to his Messianic role, that as the Son of David he perfectly fulfills all the promises God made to David and his sons that theirs would be an eternal royal dynasty:
"And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you." 2 Samuel 7:10-15
As a side note, 2 Samuel 7:14 is applied to Jesus in Hebrews 1:5!
But since the only way Jesus could have ever fulfilled these promises is by becoming a man from the line of David this implies that Hebrews 1:8-9 has Jesus Incarnation and exaltation in view. After all, if Jesus hadnt taken on a human nature he would not have become a descendant of David and could not therefore rule on the throne as his representative.
Moreover, since Jesus became a true human being and will forever remain a man who sits on the throne as Davids representative, the Father became and will forever remain his God. So there is no problem with Jesus having a God over him.
Now does this mean that Jesus humanity is being deified, that the human nature of Christ is being called God, since we are claiming that this text has in mind Jesus humanity which accounts for his having a God over him? Not at all.
At the Incarnation Jesus did not cease to be God, but simply added an additional nature to his Divine Person. Hebrews 1:8-9 isnt necessarily referring to Jesus as God or Jesus as man, but does have in mind the Incarnation and subsequent resurrection and exaltation. The text is speaking of the one Person who at this point in time was both God and man simultaneously. Putting it simply, since Hebrews 1:8-9 has Christ's post-resurrected exaltation in view Jesus can therefore be addressed as God in reference to his Divine nature and said to have a God over him in reference to his humanity. It isnt an either/or scenario, but a both/and situation.
The Divine Father is praising his Divine Son for ruling forever on Davids throne as the God-man. Amen. May the risen and exalted Lord, the One who is the only God-man forever, Jesus Christ, also be praised by all his creation forever and ever. Amen.
Another similar text that is used to try and prove that Jesus is not equal to the Father either because he is not Deity or because he is a lesser god is Revelation 3:12:
"The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name."
As one overzealous writer puts it:
Christians have come up with the weak response that this was the man nature of Jesus speaking. For argument sake we will take this response as correct. So we are able to conclude that:
1- Jesus has 2 natures, one divine one human
2- The man nature eats, sleeps, prays and has a God
3- The divine nature does not sleep, pray, or has a God
However so, it may come as a surprise to many people, but however so the supposed divine Jesus also said he has a God!
So as you can see, the divine Jesus still says he has a God! This is not Jesus as man speaking anymore, but this is Jesus as divine speaking, so how can the divine Jesus say I have a God? This clearly proves that there is no such thing as a divine Jesus, and that Jesus is not God since he has a God, even when he is in his supposed divine state.
So I would really love to see a response from the Christians on this. Why does the divine Jesus say I have a God? (Source)
What this objection erroneously assumes is that Jesus, in Revelation, is no longer man now that he is in heaven. As we noted earlier, the Holy Scriptures explicitly affirm that Jesus hasnt ceased being human after his resurrection. In fact, the resurrection presupposes that Christ remains a true human being, albeit a glorified human at that! Note what the following references all say regarding Jesus condition after his resurrection to immortality:
"As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, Peace to you! But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have FLESH AND BONES AS YOU SEE THAT I HAVE. And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, Have you anything here to eat? They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Then he said to them, These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem." Luke 24:36-47
In his first resurrection appearance, Jesus shows his disciples that he has a body of flesh and bones and still eats food!
"Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, NOR DID HIS FLESH SEE CORRUPTION. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses." Acts 2:30-32
Peter in his first sermon preached that Jesus flesh did not see decay, which implies that Christ was raised physically from the dead. Basically, Peter was affirming that Christ was resurrected with an immortal, physical, glorified body, thereby showing that Jesus continues to live as a man even after being raised from the dead, a point reiterated by Paul:
"The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by A MAN whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all BY RAISING HIM FROM THE DEAD. Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, We will hear you again about this." Acts 17:30-32
It is Jesus THE MAN who will judge the world, which means that Christ continues to exist with a human nature.
"For there is one God, and there IS one mediator between God and men, THE MAN Christ Jesus," 1 Timothy 2:5
The mediator which believers have now IS (not was) THE MAN Christ Jesus! Finally:
"And one of the elders said to me, Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals." Revelation 5:5
"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star." Revelation 22:16
The only way for Christ to be a descendant of David and from the tribe of Judah even after his resurrection and ascension into heaven is if he continues to remain a full human being.
With the foregoing in mind, it should now be clear as to why Jesus in heaven could still refer to having a God. Since Christ will forever remain human his Father will forever remain his God. Moreover, it is neither the Divine (contrary to the erroneous claim of the Muslim) nor human Jesus who is speaking in Revelation 3:12, but rather the one Person of Christ who is both God and man that is speaking. Putting it simply, it is Christ the God-man who speaks in this text.
For another response to this overzealous writer, we recommend the following article: http://answer-islam.org/god_has_god.html
All scriptural quotations taken from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Holy Bible.
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