For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are my Son, Today I have begotten You?” And again: “ I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”?
Prior to even quoting the first text of scripture, the writer uses the style of writing similar to that of the apostle Paul with the imaginary objector. The question is to which of the angels did He ever say… The answer to the question is quite simply none! It answers itself in the negative! He quotes Psalm 2:7, which is a coronation Psalm used during the coronation ceremony for a new King. The Psalm is demonstrating the utter sovereignty and power of Jehovah over and above even the most powerful rulers of the earth. Men had attempted to align themselves together against God however the Lord laughs at their efforts. Even with their greatest endeavor, they could not stop God from installing His King mainly His Son who will rule over them. Hebrews is expressing likewise the absolute sovereignty and rulership of the Son over all nations. This is defined as His “inheritance”. The point of the Psalm and of Hebrews is not to show the inferiority of Jesus Christ but to demonstrate His superiority above all things since He is the ruler of all.
The angels are called the sons of God (Genesis 6:2,4; Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7) as well as Adam in Luke 3:38 however the language used to assert the relationship between the Father and the Son is far greater than that of angels (John 3:35, 5:20, 14:31). The term “today” has provoked some controversy in that some have asserted that the writer is referring to the Lord Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:11) however when we examine the language of Acts 13:33 we understand that Luke used the Psalm to speak of His resurrection. It does refer back slightly to His human nature however this is something that the Lord Jesus possesses after the resurrection as well while being the eternal High Priest (Heb. 5:5). The writer goes on to the heart of the reason why the Lord Jesus is vested with honour. Brethren writer Sydney Maxwell explains:
Hebrews 1:5 reminds us that He is greater than angels because of His eternal relationship to God. “Thou art my Son” is timeless; it is before and beyond time. “This day have I begotten thee” does not refer to the commencement of His Sonship, but to the communication of it, by the Father, in His resurrection…The word anastasis is translated a number of times as resurrection.[i]
It is not difficult to find confusion with regards to the term “begotten” since, as previously mentioned, we tend to attempt to read the scripture through the lenses of our 21st century culture rather than putting ourselves in the place of the recipients of this letter. When we seek to understand the language of the term “begotten” we must understand the bestowing of one as king. The term brings to mind the expression of dignity that comes with Kingship. The term “only-begotten” is the expression of a unique personification which is exalted in a position of honour.[ii]
The connection finally reaches its peak with the grand revelation of the unique relationship between the Father and the Son. The words expressed have truly given us a sense of the love there exists between the Father and the Son. This is the perfect example of what the love between a father and his son should be. We have here a parallel thought from the previous section in v.5, which continues with the expressive exaltation of the Son. This is communicated to us by the second quotation from the OT from 2 Samuel 7:14 where it is used as a reference to Solomon. It should be carefully noted however that many scholars believe the quote could also be in line with 1 Chronicles 17:13 where we read: I will be his Father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. This would refer to the throne as being one that is of infinite value since the one sitting on it is the promised one whom shall always be the possessor of this majestic place of rulership.
[i] The Person of Christ, S. Maxwell, Gospel Tract Publications, Page 46
[ii] The term monogenes can be divided into two separate words, monos meaning unique, only, one of a kind and genes (gennos) which refers to a kind or a type. In the earlier days, it was thought that the genes was from ginnomai yet through research, scholars have come to the conclusion that the term would have been taken from the gennos. We must although when reading words in scripture that there is such a thing as terms having different meanings due to their context. Since there are many passages that refer to the Lord Jesus as being eternal, without a beginning, we must, in essence compare scripture as a whole in order to avoid any confusion. The key to understanding the passage is understanding the primary point of what John was trying to get across which wasn’t the origins of the Lord but his uniqueness, that He is the Only one of His kind. Examine Hebrews 11:17 where Isaac is called the only begotten son of Abraham however we know that by reading in Genesis about the sons of Abraham that Isaac wasn’t his only son but held a unique place in the family.