The Bible presents several significant relationships of angels to Jesus Christ. These relationships, when taken together, emphasize the fact that Jesus Christ is exalted above and infinitely superior to the angels.
He Existed Before the Angels
In Colossians 1:15 Paul declared that Jesus Christ, who provided forgiveness of sins for human beings (v. 14), is “the firstborn of every creature.” Through this statement, Paul did not mean that Christ Himself was created. Verse 16 teaches that Christ created all things that have been created, including the invisible “thrones, or dominons, or principalities, or powers” (which refer to angels). How could He have created all things if He Himself were a created being? One of the connotations of the word “firstborn” was “priority in time.” Thus Paul was indicating that Jesus Christ existed before everything that was created, including the angels.
He is the Sovereign Lord of Angels
The word “firstborn” had another connotation: “supremacy over.” Thus, Paul was saying that Christ holds a position of supremacy over all of creation. He is the sovereign Lord of everything that has been created, including the angels. Paul asserted this same truth again in Colossians 2:10 when he wrote that Christ “is the head of all principality and power.”
He Created the Angels
In Colossians 1:16 the apostle Paul declared why Christ is the sovereign Lord over all creation, including the angels: “For by Him were all things created … all things were created by Him.” The apostle John declared the same truth: “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3).
Angels Were Created for His Benefit
At the end of Colossians 1:16, Paul asserted that all things were created “for” Christ. This means that Christ is the goal or ultimate purpose for which every part of the created universe was brought into being and exists.
Angels Are Sustained by Him
In Colossians 1:17, Paul stated “by Him all things consist.” The verb translated “consist” means “continue, endure, exist.” The point is that not only did Christ bring every created thing into existence, but He also continues to sustain the existence of every created thing, including the angels.
Angels Commanded to Worship Him
Hebrews 1:6 records the following command of God to angels regarding His Son Jesus Christ: “And let all the angels of God worship Him.” Because the Bible teaches that angels are never to be worshipped (Colossians 2:18; Revelation 19:10), this command by God clearly indicates that Christ is not an angel. Also, the word translated “worship” in this command indicates that it referred to an act of reverence, respect, or submission that an individual directed to a person superior to himself. God’s command to the angels to worship His Son indirectly ascribes deity to Jesus Christ.
He Was Made Lower than the Angels
Because God created man a little lower than angels on the scale of personal beings (Hebrews 2:6,7), when Christ became a human being through His incarnation (John 1:14), He too “was made a little lower than the angels” in the realm of His humanity (Hebrews 2:9). Why did Christ, the Creator, Sustainer, and sovereign Lord of the universe, allow Himself to be made a man? All human beings have sinned and become subject to God’s judgment (Romans 3:10,23), and there are no good works that people can do to cancel out their sins and make themselves right with God (Isaiah 64:6; Ephesians 2:8,9). Christ knew that the only way for humans to be made right with God was for Him to become a human being, die as a substitute, be buried, and then be resurrected bodily from the dead. Then human beings would have to place personal faith (trust) totally and exclusively in Him as their Saviour (John 3:16-18).
Love motivated Christ to allow Himself to be made a little lower than the angels so that He could provide the only way of eternal salvation available to human beings and acceptable to God.
He Defeated and Shamed Evil Angels
After talking about the cross in the preceding verse, Paul in Colossians 2:15 wrote, “And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” Through His death on the cross, He paid in full our debt of sin and thereby put to death the written record of our sins, the document that continually reminded God of the debt we owed Him. As agents of Satan, the accuser (Revelation 12:10), evil angels tried to use this written record of human sins to stir up God’s wrath. Paul stated that once Christ had disarmed evil angels of this weapon, He “made a show of them openly.” The word translated “triumphed over” was the term used in the ancient world for the action “of a triumphant general leading a parade of victory.”
He Is Exalted Above the Angels
In Ephesians 1:20-22, Paul used four expressions to emphasize the fact that when Jesus Christ ascended to heaven after His resurrection from the dead, God exalted Him to a position of authority over all creation, including the angels. Christ’s position of authority before His incarnation existed totally in the realm of His deity. The humanity of Jesus Christ was “a little lower than the angels” from the time of His incarnation to the time of His bodily resurrection. But that same humanity, now in glorified form, has been exalted to a position of authority high above the angels. Now the angels are subject to Him, not just in the realm of His deity, but also in the realm of His glorified humanity.
—Condensed from Those Invisible Spirits Called Angels by Renald Showers, published by The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry