In Hebrews 1:6 the author says that God commands the angels to worship Jesus, his firstborn son.  The command to worship is drawn from the LXX of Deut 32:43 but seems to be blended with Psalm 97:7 (LXX Ps 96:7) and Psalm 89:27 (LXX 88:28). Ellingworth suggests Odes of Solomon 2:43b and 4QDt 32:43b are possible sources as well, although these two texts are probably alluding to the same texts as the author of Hebrews. The phrase “let all the sons of God/angels worship him” is missing in the Hebrew text, so the writer of Hebrews either is following the Greek of Deuteronomy or only has the Psalm in mind.

There are two issues with this verse that need to be addressed that have a bearing on Christology. First, the quote is introduced by a phrase calling Christ the “firstborn of God.”  The word “firstborn” could be taken to mean that Jesus was created or generated by God, so that Jesus was similar to God, but not the same substance as God himself. In fact, the Greek word πρωτότοκος (prototokos) does mean “first born,” but it often refers to the legal status as heir rather than birth order.

Rembrandt_AqedahIt is possible for the “first born” to be the literal first born child, but that is not necessarily the case. Jacob can be called the first born, even though he was not the literal first born, because he was the son of the blessing over his older brother. More importantly for the writer of Hebrews, the word πρωτότοκος was applied to David in Psalm 89:27 (LXX 88:28).

The second issue is the command to worship Jesus. In the original context of Psalm 97:7, worshipers of idols are put to shame by the glory of God revealed in creation. Since the idols are worthless, the gods/angels are commanded to worship God. The Hebrew Bible has כָּל־אֱלֹהִֽים, “all the gods,” the Greek of the Psalm has πάντες οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ, “all his angels.” It is probably the case that the translator took the “gods” as “sons of God” and translated the phrase “angels,” a similar case is found in Psalm 8.

The important point is what the quote says: all the angels should (now) worship the Son. In this present age, the firstborn son ought to receive the worship that was reserved for God in the previous age. This would create a problem for a monotheistic Jewish thinker – how can Jesus be worshiped as God? God is commanding his angels to worship something other than himself, a violation of his own Law. The shema, after all, says that there is one God. The angels can only worship God himself, so the author of Hebrews is pointing to the fact that the Son is to be worshiped because he is God.

Is this a valid inference from the text of Hebrews? If a reader sets aside their views on the Trinity (either for or against it), does the writer of Hebrews intend to equate Jesus and God in some real way in this verse? What else is there in Hebrews 1 to support this assertion?