Heirs of Salvation
by Ronny H. Graham
In Hebrews 1:13-14, the apostle Paul, the probable author of Hebrews, continues his efforts to show the superiority of Christ over angels by quoting from Psalm 110, the psalm most quoted in the New Testament:
But to which of the angels has He ever said:
“Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?
Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?
While Paul is explaining Christ’s superiority to angels, he also begins to describe their duties. Even though stating it as a question, he describes what they are, and more importantly, what they do: They are spirit beings, created as servants,
whom God has sent out to serve.
attends to the needs of others, and in the case of angels, they are servants of God sent to take care of certain people. Notice that it does not say that they are sent to take care of the world, the creation, a particular ethnic group, or a specific place on the earth. No, God sends them to care for “those who will inherit salvation.” While it may not be their only job, according to Paul, their primary
focus is on those whom God calls and converts, the heirs of salvation.
Perhaps we take Paul’s statement for granted. God has sent the greatest created beings
with all their knowledge, power, and access to God’s throne to do a job, and it is to watch over His elect. We can thank God that they are loyal to Him and happy to do it!
The Work of Angels
We find examples of their work throughout the Bible. In Daniel 6:22, Daniel says, “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me.” Later, the prophet speaks with an angel who came to his aid, who refers to the archangel Michael being “your
prince” (Daniel 10:21). Elisha understood that God’s protection was all around him when he asked God to allow his servant
to see the heavenly army watching over them (II Kings 6:15-17).
Another example appears in Job 1:8-10:
LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him
on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”
So Satan answered the LORD and
said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.”
It would appear here that Satan may have already tried to get to Job, but he could not because of the hedge God had placed around him and his family on all sides. Could this hedge have been an army of
angels, as in Elisha’s case? It may have been. God may have placed this same hedge around all those who will inherit salvation, and so Satan and his minions are kept at bay.
As the greatest created beings in God’s Kingdom, they still are not even close to the greatness of Jesus Christ, as Hebrews 1:13 confirms. This verse repeats what the author presents in verses 1-2: Christ is the Heir of all things, and God the Father has placed Him at His right hand. Ultimately, governance comes from the throne where God is with
Jesus Christ at His side, and God sends His loyal angels as servants from the seat of government to fulfill certain ministerial functions focused on His saints.
The last phrase of Hebrews 1:14 calls
God’s chosen people “those who will inherit salvation.” An heir is one chosen to receive an inheritance, which usually occurs upon the death of the individual who bequeathed it. Typically, the testator is a blood relation, so a legal heir
is usually part of the family bloodline.
The book of Leviticus provides specific details about the inheritance of the Promised Land, indicating that inheritance is
a prominent idea in God’s purpose. In the book of Ruth, Boaz, a type of Christ, went to great lengths to ensure he followed the inheritance laws in acquiring the land belonging to Elimelech, Ruth’s dead husband, as well as Ruth herself to become
his wife (see Ruth 4:1-12). From that marriage came the lineage of David, which culminated in the birth of Christ.
A difference in the Hebrew and Greek cultures regarding inheritance is striking. In Greek culture, an heir is simply one who inherits, but among the Hebrews, inheritance is more
forceful. According to Strong’s Concordance, inherit (yāraš, #3423) can have a more forceful meaning: “to occupy (by driving out previous tenants, and possessing in their place); by impl. to seize,
to rob, to inherit; also to expel, to impoverish, to ruin—cast out, consume, destroy, disinherit, dispossess, drive out, enjoy, expel.”
We realize that
the Israelites had to take such actions to inherit the Promised Land. Interestingly, a similar process occurred in American history when the first settlers arrived and began to drive out the indigenous peoples. Their situations may parallel what God’s
elect must do to inherit the earth, which Satan and his demons currently occupy.
Paul writes about these heirs of salvation in Galatians 3:29; 4:1-2:
And if you are
Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heir according to the promise. Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed
by the father.
He adds in Romans 8:16-17:
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with
Him, that we may also be glorified together.
The apostle states in Galatians 3:29 that if God has chosen us and given us to Christ, then we are considered Abraham’s seed, making us heirs of what God promised to Abraham. In both passages, Paul speaks of children. In Romans 8, he calls those
in whom God’s Spirit dwells “children of God,” and as such, we are His heirs and thus joint-heirs with Christ! Even so, as God’s children, we have not received the fullness of the inheritance. The entire inheritance will not come into
our possession until the first resurrection.
Not Yet Full Inheritors
Paul also says in Galatians 4:2 that children who are heirs are no different than slaves or servants, despite their potential. Although the child may be of royal blood and heir to a throne, he or she—a potential king or queen—is still
under authority, subject to parents, guardians, and teachers.
The current Queen of England, Elizabeth II, was born a princess, putting her in line to ascend to the
throne of England. Because of her bloodline, she outranked the many servants, nannies, lords, and ladies that helped take care of her as a child. However, being a child, she lacked knowledge, wisdom, strength, and experience. She had to mature under the ministrations
Consider that she had nothing to do with her station in life; she was heir to a throne by virtue of her birth. Is not the elect’s position similar?
In terms of our calling, we had nothing to do with it! God chooses those He calls, and He chose us to become His heirs! Because of our present weak and immature state, God has sent angels, despite their being far wiser and more powerful than we are, to minister
to His children, His heirs. They serve us! This state of affairs may be hard to imagine, but God has commissioned them to minister to the heirs of salvation. Are we not glad they do?
In Hebrews 2:5-9, the author quotes David’s words in Psalm 8:4-6:
For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying:
“What is man that You are mindful of him,
Or the son of man that You take care of him?
You have made him a little lower than the angels;
You have crowned
him with glory and honor,
And set him over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”
that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor,
that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
Most Bibles capitalize pronouns that refer to Deity, yet here, the translators have not capitalized the
many occurrences of the pronoun “him”! Notice that “son of man” in verse 6, unlike its many appearances in the gospels referring to Jesus, is also not capitalized. Why not here? The answer is simple: Paul does not intend us to understand
this prophecy to be referring only to Jesus Christ but to “man”!
David and the author of Hebrews understood exactly what God was saying. The psalm has humans in mind, not just Jesus.
Some commentators believe that Paul describes Christ alone in verses 6-8, but a close reading shows that he follows David’s broader description of human potential until verse 9. There, he begins with “but,” a contrasting conjunction that
ties two distinct thoughts together.
While the book of Hebrews begins
by showing Jesus Christ’s superiority over angels, by this passage in chapter 2, the author is including the elect of God, those who will inherit salvation, in the picture alongside their Savior and King. Like Christ, those God chooses as His heirs will
have all things placed under them. They will sit at the Father’s right hand with Jesus Christ on His throne (Revelation 2:26; 3:21 5:10;
see Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:29-30; I Corinthians 6:2)!
Christ, we, the heirs of salvation, have been made a little lower than the angels. As human beings, we are inferior to them in just about every way. But God is working with us in a similar way that He did with Jesus so we can receive the same inheritance as
He has. God is preparing us to live and work side by side with Him, always at His right hand, “crowned . . . with glory and honor”!
No Need to Fear
Paul writes in Hebrews 2:5, “For He has not put the world to come,
of which we speak, in subjection to angels.” No, the world to come will be ruled by glorified human beings, beginning with the greatest Son of Man, Jesus Christ. Now God is training His elect to rule His Kingdom with Him.
The psalmist writes in Psalm 139:6, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high,
I cannot attain it.” Like Job came to realize (see Job 42:2-6), he understood God’s greatness compared to weak and
puny man, and it boggled his mind that God would pay any attention to such lowly creatures. Even so, it is what God reveals in His Book.
Should we not, then, “give
the more earnest heed to the things we have heard [the truth from Scripture], lest we drift away”? In the world’s current situation—with viruses, war, forecasts of food shortages, and inept leadership on everyone’s mind—a state
of fear exists. Some people are afraid to leave their houses. Some have a bunker mentality, ready to go to ground at the slightest disturbance in society. Are we among those who are letting fear rule their lives?
Fear divides, makes one self-centered, and can destroy faith. Of all people, we need not fear because we are the ones whom Almighty
God is focused on (see Deuteronomy 32:10; Psalm 17:8; Zechariah 2:8). He provides for His elect children “exceedingly abundantly above all
that [they] ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). He has sent those same angels who stopped the mouths of lions, the great angelic
host that surrounded Elisha, the same mighty spirit beings who formed the hedge around Job, to watch over His inheritance, His heirs of salvation.