Hebrews 1:7


King James Version (KJV)

And of the angels he said, Who makes his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.

American King James Version (AKJV)

And of the angels he said, Who makes his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.

American Standard Version (ASV)

And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels winds, And his ministers a flame a fire:

Basic English Translation (BBE)

And of the angels he says, Who makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire:

Webster's Revision

And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.

World English Bible

Of the angels he says, "Who makes his angels winds, and his servants a flame of fire."

English Revised Version (ERV)

And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels winds, And his ministers a flame of fire:

Clarke's Hebrews 1:7 Bible Commentary

Who maketh his angels spirits - They are so far from being superior to Christ, that they are not called God's sons in any peculiar sense, but his servants, as tempests and lightnings are. In many respects they may have been made inferior even to man as he came out of the hands of his Maker, for he was made in the image and likeness of God; but of the angels, even the highest order of them, this is never spoken. It is very likely that the apostle refers here to the opinions of the Jews relative to the angels. In Pirkey R. Elieser, c. 4, it is said: "The angels which were created the second day, when they minister before God, נעשין של אש become fire." In Shemoth Rabba, s. 25, fol. 123, it is said: "God is named the Lord of hosts, because with his angels he doth whatsoever he wills: when he pleases, he makes them sit down; Judges 6:11 : And the angel of the Lord came, and sat under a tree. When he pleases, he causes them to stand; Isaiah 6:2 : The seraphim stood. Sometimes he makes them like women; Zechariah 5:9 : Behold there came two women, and the wind was in their wings. Sometimes he makes them like men; Genesis 18:2 : And, lo, three men stood by him. Sometimes he makes them spirits; Psalm 104:4 : Who maketh his angels spirits. Sometimes he makes them fire; ibid. His ministers a flame of fire."

In Yalcut Simeoni, par. 2, fol. 11, it is said: "The angel answered Manoah, I know not in whose image I am made, for God changeth us every hour: sometimes he makes us fire, sometimes spirit, sometimes men, and at other times angels." It is very probable that those who are termed angels are not confined to any specific form or shape, but assume various forms and appearances according to the nature of the work on which they are employed and the will of their sovereign employer. This seems to have been the ancient Jewish doctrine on this subject.

Barnes's Hebrews 1:7 Bible Commentary

And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits - He gives to them an inferior name, and assigns to them a more humble office. They are mere ministers, and have not ascribed to them the name of "Son." They have a name which implies a more humble rank and office - the name "spirit," and the appellation of a "flame of fire." They obey his will as the winds and the lightnings do. The "object" of the apostle in this passage is to show that the angels serve God in a ministerial capacity - as the winds do; while the Son is Lord of all. The one serves him passively, as being wholly under his control; the other acts as a Sovereign, as Lord over all, and is addressed and regarded as the equal with God. This quotation is made from Psalm 104:4. The passage "might" be translated, "Who maketh his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire;" that is, "who makes his angels like the winds, or as swift as the winds, and his ministers as rapid, as terrible, and as resistless as the lightning."

So Doddridge renders it; and so did the late Dr. John P. Wilson (manuscript notes). The passage in the Psalm is susceptible, I think, of another interpretation, and might be regarded as meaning, "who makes the winds his messengers, and the flaming fire his ministers;" and perhaps this is the sense which would most naturally occur to a reader of the Hebrew. The Hebrew, however, will admit of the construction here put upon it, and it cannot be proved that it was the original intention of the passage to show that the angels were the mere servants of God, rapid, quick, and prompt to do his will - like the winds. The Chaldee Paraphrase renders this passage in the Psalm, "Who makes his messengers swift as the wind; his ministers strong like a flame of fire." Prof. Stuart maintains that the passage in the Psalms cannot mean "who makes the winds his messengers," but that the intention of the Psalmist is to describe the "invisible" as well as the "visible" majesty of God, and that he refers to the angels as a part of the retinue which goes to make up His glory.

This does not seem to me to be perfectly certain; but still it cannot be demonstrated that Paul has made an improper use of the passage. It is to be presumed that he, who had been trained in the knowledge of the Hebrew language, would have had a better opportunity of knowing its fair construction than we can; and it is morally certain that he would employ the passage "in an argument" as it was commonly understood by those to whom he wrote - that is, to those who were familiar with the Hebrew language and literature. If he has so used the passage; if he has - as no one can disprove - put the fair construction on it, then it is just in point. It proves that the angels are the "attendant servants" of God; employed to grace his train, to do his will, to accompany him as the clouds and winds and lightnings do, and to occupy a subordinate rank in his creation. "Flame of fire." This probably refers to lightning - which is often the meaning of the phrase. The word "ministers" here, means the same as angels, and the sense of the whole is, that the attending retinue of God, when he manifests himself with great power and glory, is like the winds and the lightning. His angels are like them. They are prompt to do his will - rapid, quick, obedient in his service; they are in all respects subordinate to him, and occupy, as the winds and the lightnings do, the place of servants. They are not addressed in language like what is applied to the Son of God, and they must all be far inferior to him.

Wesley's Hebrews 1:7 Bible Commentary

1:7 Who maketh his angels - This implies, they are only creatures, whereas the Son is eternal, Heb 1:8; and the Creator himself, Heb 1:10. Spirits and a flame of fire - Which intimates not only their office, but also their nature; which is excellent indeed, the metaphor being taken from the most swift, subtle, and efficacious things on earth; but nevertheless infinitely below the majesty of the Son. Psa 104:4.

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