“God, having of old times spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his son whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds. Who being the effulgence of his glory and the very image of his substance and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had made purification of sins, sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high, having become so much better than angels as he hath inherited a more excellent name than they” (Heb. 1:1-4).
In these verses there is a hint of Psalm 110:1 in it. Christ sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high, but later in the chapter the writer quotes the verse in full. Suffice it to say the writer asserts that while God did in past times speak to the fathers by the prophets in various ways, now He speaks to man in His Son. One of the ways in which God sometimes spoke to the prophets was through the medium of angels. In fact, the Law was given through them. Stephen so says in Acts 7:58 and Paul says the same in Gal. 3:19. That was in times past: today God speaks through His Son.
The writer tells that the sitting down of Christ on the right hand of God occurred because God had made Jesus better than the angels. Stating this, the writer set out to prove his point. First he quoted Psalm 2:7: “Thou art my Son. This day have I begotten thee.” He had asked which angel God had ever spoken those words to. None, of course. Many contrasts are made of the Son and angels showing the Son to be better than they, concluding his argument with Psalm 110:1: “The Lord said to my Lord, sit thou at my right hand till I make thy enemies the footstool of thy feet.”
Having established that Christ is better than angels, he continued to show the importance of men listening to the Son in all things. He wrote, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them. For if the word spoken by angels proved steadfast and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Which having at the first been spoken through the Lord was confirmed unto us by them that heard …?” (Heb. 2:1-3).
Before Jesus ascended to the Father, He commissioned His apostles to go preach to all nations, to baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to teach them to observe all things He had commanded (Mt. 28:18-20). He claimed that all power had been given to Him in heaven and earth. He was given this power and this rule because He offered Himself as a sacrifice for sinful man (Phil. 2:5-11). Because of this, God gave Him a name above every name. In this instance “name” stands for authority. When Peter and John healed a man lame from his mother’s womb and were arrested for preaching the resurrection of Jesus to those who gathered together in awe after the miracle God gave them to perform, the Jewish rulers asked them, “By what power, or in what name have ye done this?” (Acts 4:7). Peter responded by telling them that the man had been healed in “the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 4:10). Thus power or authority and name are equivalents. So, if God gave Christ a name above every name, God gave Christ authority above all authority and that is what He claims.
When Peter commanded, “Repent ye and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38), he was not giving a formula to be uttered at baptism as some suppose. Peter did not command just baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ.” He commanded repentance also to be done in that name. If baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ” is a formula to be uttered at the immersion of a soul, how does one go about uttering “in the name of Jesus Christ” when one repents?
“In the name of Jesus Christ” is not a magical phrase to be uttered in an effort to heal someone of an illness or infirmity. Seven sons of Sceva sought to cast a demon from a man by uttering the phrase but learned that in at least one instance uttering the name of Jesus brought about hurt to them who did (Acts 19:11-16). Being baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ” means one is baptized because Jesus has all power and He commands men to be baptized to be saved.
Doing something in the name of Jesus means to do something He commands or allows men to do. Whatever we do must be done by Christ’s authority, in other words “in the name of Jesus Christ” (Col. 3:17). It is imperative that men recognize Jesus as Lord, He who possesses all authority in heaven and on earth. Moses spoke of Christ as one like him, to whom all must hear (Deut. 18:15). Peter spoke of this passage saying, “Moses indeed said, a prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren like unto me; to him shall ye hearken in all things whatsoever he shall speak unto you. And it shall be that every soul that harkeneth not to the prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people” (Acts 3:22-23). The Father gave all authority to His Son and charges “Hear ye him” (Mt. 28:18; 17:5).
On the day of Pentecost the kingdom promised by John and Jesus, and prophesied by Daniel (2:44) began. One of the very first commands of Him who has all authority was “Repent ye and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). What do you suppose will happen to one who denies that baptism is for the remission of sins and who refuses to heed the voice of Jesus? It is so tragic that many who affirm the absolute necessity of faith in Jesus Christ look at this verse — His words — and say, “I don’t believe it.”
The Hebrew writer showed that the word of angels (who are inferior to Jesus) proved steadfast, none could disregard them without severe consequence, and Jesus is better than the angels. If none who disobeyed the words of angels could escape without consequence, how do men think today they can disregard the words of Jesus and suffer no consequence? It was to Jesus alone whom God said, “Sit thou at my right hand till I make thy enemies the footstool of thy feet.” He is at God’s right hand today. “Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts …” (Heb. 3:7-8).