Angel winds, Ministers a flame


#1

In The Letter to the Hebrews, Chapter 1 Verse 7 states:
Of the angels he says ;
He makes his angels winds
and his ministers a fiery flame.

Please explain.


#2

A poor translation? :shrug:

(Douay-Rheims) Hebrews 1: [7] And to the angels indeed he saith: He that maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.


#3

First off, Paul is quoting Psalm 103/104, verse 4. So you want to go over to Psalms and see what the Psalm is about.

Bless the Lord, O my soul: O Lord my God, thou art exceedingly great. Thou hast put on praise and beauty: And art clothed with light as with a garment.

[Thou] Who stretchest out the heaven like a pavilion, Who coverest the higher rooms thereof with water, Who makest the clouds thy chariot: who walkest upon the wings of the winds, Who makest thy angels spirits: and thy ministers a burning fire.

So we’re talking about God’s angels (which also means “messengers”) and His ministers (which in this place means “servants”).

The angels were all created by God as spirits instead of people with souls and bodies, like us. Angels like the cherubim and seraphim are closely associated with the burning fire of God’s love, and of being like fire in some ways. One of the signs of God’s glory and power, to us, is that He made such strange and glorious beings to serve Him.

So now we go back to Paul. Paul is talking about how God’s Son is glorious. Jesus Christ is not an angel; He is a lot more glorious than the angels. The angels are mighty and impressive, but the Son is on a whole other level.

"God, who, at sundry times and in divers manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all, in these days hath spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world – Who being the brightness of his glory, and the figure of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, making purgation of sins, sitteth on the right hand of the majesty on high - being made so much better than the angels, as he hath inherited a more excellent name than they.

For to which of the angels hath he said at any time, “Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee”? And again, “I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son”?
And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith: “And let all the angels of God adore him.”

And to the angels indeed he saith: “He that maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.”

But to the Son, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of justice is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved justice, and hated iniquity: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”

And: “Thou in the beginning, O Lord, didst found the earth: and the works of thy hands are the heavens. They shall perish, but thou shalt continue: and they shall all grow old as a garment. And as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: but thou art the selfsame, and thy years shall not fail.”

But to which of the angels said he at any time: “Sit on my right hand, until I make thy enemies thy footstool?” Are they not all ministering [servant] spirits, sent to minister [serve] for them who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?

So that’s how Paul illustrates his point - with Bible quotes relating to the Son versus Bible quotes relating to the angels.


#4

@. Mintaka Good Job,well Done ,


#5

Well, thanks, Phil at Dayboro, but I think I actually didn’t address the OP’s question!

In retrospect, I think his question was what Telstar thought it was, and that it was about the wording of the passage in his Bible’s translation, which is pretty odd:

“He makes his angels winds”

Okay, so let’s look at why it would be translated “winds” instead of “spirits.” Even if it’s a confusing translation, there’s usually a reason for this stuff.

The Greek says that God makes His angels “pneumata”. This means “winds” or “breaths” in the literal meaning, but it figuratively is used to mean “spirits.” (And not just in Bible/Christian/Jewish literature, either.) Another way to put it is “the breath of life,” the thing that animates you and keeps you alive.

The Greek wording used in Hebrews 1:7 is probably Paul quoting a Septuagint translation of the Psalms into Greek

In Hebrew, Psalm 103/104: 4 says that God makes His angels “ruhowt,” which also literally means “winds” or “breaths,” but is often used to mean “spirits.” (The singular is “ruach,” which you may have heard of before (and which actually is used in the Psalm verse immediately before this one).

A lot of ancient cultures and languages have this breath/spirit/wind connection of words and meanings, so it’s very handy for translating Hebrew into languages like that. The Latin “spiritus” also means both “breath” and “spirit.” We have a little of it in English - “He had the wind knocked out of him.” “He just finished a marathon. He’s totally winded.”

So anyway, if you’re a Bible translator, you can translate the figurative meaning of words, or you can translate the literal meaning, or you can mix it up as needed. The OP ran into a translator who chose to translate more of the literal meaning of those particular words.


#6

The Best way to gain understanding is by reading Scripture in Context with the surrounding text.

Hebrews 1:5-9
The Son Higher Than the Angels
Messianic Enthronement.
5 You are my son; this day I have begotten you”?
Or again: “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me”?
6 And again, when he leadsc] the first-born into the world, he says:
“Let all the angels of God worship him.”
7 Of the angels he says:
“He makes his angels winds
and his ministers a fiery flame”;
8 but of the Son:
“Your throne, O God,d] stands forever and ever;
and a righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You loved justice and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, anointed you
with the oil of gladness above your companions”;

Footnotes:

1:5–14 Jesus’ superiority to the angels is now demonstrated by a series of seven Old Testament texts. Some scholars see in the stages of Jesus’ exaltation an order corresponding to that of enthronement ceremonies in the ancient Near East, especially in Egypt, namely, elevation to divine status (Hb 1:5–6); presentation to the angels and proclamation of everlasting lordship (Hb 1:7–12); enthronement and conferral of royal power (Hb 1:13). The central quotation in Hb 1:7 serves to contrast the angels with the Son. The author quotes it according to the Septuagint translation, which is quite different in meaning from that of the Hebrew (“You make the winds your messengers, and flaming fire your ministers”). 1:6 And again, when he leads: the Greek could also be translated “And when he again leads” in reference to the parousia.[LIST=1]
*]1:8–12 O God: the application of the name “God” to the Son derives from the preexistence mentioned in Hb 1:2–3; the psalmist had already used it of the Hebrew king in the court style of the original. See note on Ps 45:7. It is also important for the author’s christology that in Hb 1:10–12 an Old Testament passage addressed to God is redirected to Jesus.
[/LIST]A good Bible commentary will also help, Here is the relevant section from the Hydock Bible Commentary:

**Ver. 7. **Maketh his Angels,[5] spirits: and his ministers, a flame of fire. St. Augustine, on Psalm ciii., and St. Gregory, hom. xxxiv. in Evang., would have the sense and construction of the words to be, who maketh the blessed spirits to be also his Angels, or messengers to announce and execute his will: (messengers and Angels signify the same in the Greek) Calvin and Beza by spirits, here understand the winds, as if the sense was only, who maketh the winds and flames of fire, that is, thunder and lightning, the messengers and instruments of his divine will, in regard of men, whom he punisheth. But this exposition agrees not with the rest of the text, nor with the design of St. Paul, which is to shew Christ above all the Angels, and above all creatures. St. Paul therefore is to be understood of Angels or angelic spirits: but then the sense may be, who maketh his Angels like the winds, or like a flame of fire, inasmuch as they execute his divine will with incredible swiftness, like the winds, and with a force and activity not unlike that of fire. (Witham)


#7

There’s another detail which might be helpful – because the Cherubim are the “horses” carrying the throne of God throughout scripture; So – By alluding to the angels being “made” into a particular kind of wind which carries a throne, and Jesus being made into a King – his superiority is assured because it’s the nature of a king to sit upon a throne; eg: to be seated upon the cherubim, or carried by the seraphim.

With that in mind, consider:
Often in English translation, of Ezekiel, we hear the chariot of God’s throne translated as having “wheels within wheels” – but that’s not literal, as I think the Greek (off the top of my head), says something more like whirlings within whirlings. As in, the nested structure of an eye of a hurricane storm with surrounding winds and a hollow center, or the twister structure of a tornado. ( Ezekiel 1:16 )
To the eye, a storm translates any way it wants to, without changing it’s direction of spin…exactly like Ezekiel describes the motion of the wheel.

So – the Hebrew people were well acquainted with the idea that “winds” implied the cherubim and the chariot of God. and it’s also this “chariot” which is spoken of as taking Elijah into heaven. 2Kings 2:1, 2Kings 2:11

And also, when the Son first comes into the world, there are references in the creation account of similar things.

I found it interesting that when Genesis speaks of the “sound” of God walking in the Garden, Scott Hahn even commented on that being a very loud sound indeed ; and I think it might be helpful to consider it this way: for it was the Cherubim who’s firey sword (lightning) turned every which way (in a twister storm) to block the path of Adam back into Paradise (the place underneath the seraphim, sort of the calm eye of the hurricane where the Cherubim were surrounding it.)

The angels are, indeed, found where fire and wind abound…


#8

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