Hebrews 1, Angels and Elements

February 27, 2022

Yesterday, it occurred to me that in Hebrews 1, the author quotes, “He makes his angels winds/spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire,” and it suddenly occurred to me that those are two of the four classical elements. A neat connection to the stoicheia kosmou (“elements of the world”) passages in Galatians and Colossians, I thought, particularly since both Galatians 3 and Stephen in Acts 7 (as well as quite probably Colossians 2:18 in context) connect angels to Torah. And of course, like Galatians, Hebrews has a very strong focus upon the ending of the old covenant administration (although Galatians focuses more primarily upon circumcision and calendrical observance, whereas Hebrews is more focused upon the temple service).

Well, today I looked up the passage that Hebrews 1 is quoting, and whoah! — all the classical elements are there: “He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on wings of the wind; he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire. He set the earth on its foundations….” (Psalm 104:3–5).

Water, wind, fire, earth.

So without outright saying so, it appears that Hebrews is using the same concept of stoicheia kosmou as Paul is in Galatians 4 and Colossians 2. Moreover, this provides further support that the phrase does not mean “elemental spirits” or “elemental/rudimentary teachings,” but rather refers to the consitutive elements of the old creation.