Hebrews 1:8 sure seems biased, and unscriptural, to me.
In accordance with the vast majority of translations, the inspired writer of Hebrews 1:8, 9 specifically referred to the Son as God. Chapter 1 is devoted to distinguishing Christ from angels and identifying Him as God the Son which should leave no doubt that Christ is not an angel as the Jehovah’s Witnesses preach.
[B]ut as to the Son, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, A sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Your kingdom; You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; because this God, your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above your companions.” (Hebrews 1: 8, 9 Green’s Literal Translation)
According to the Catholic New American Bible “[T]he application of the name “God” to the Son derives from the preexistence mentioned in vv 2-3;…” (NAB notes 1:8-12).
…in these last days, he spoke to us through a Son,
whom he made heir of all things
and through whom he created the universe,
who is the refulgence of his glory,
the very imprint of his being,
and who sustains all things by his mighty word.
When he had accomplished purification from sins,
he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high, … (NAB)
First, at verse 3 a literal translation says that Christ is “the express image of His essence” (Green’s Literal Translation; “imprint of His being” NAB). Here, “image” (Greek charaktar) denotes that the Son is “literally equal to God,” of whose essence he is the imprint. It is the fact of complete similarity which this Word stresses” (Strong and Vine’s, 269). Clearly, Christ could not have been created and most certainly was not an angel because either way He would not be literally equal to God, but much less.
Secondly, verse 13 quotes Psalm 110:1 where Jehovah God is said to refer to Christ as Adonai (adonay) (Hebrew for Lord) which is a title used exclusively for God (Strong and Vine’s, 6) , an interpretation even the Jehovah’s Witnesses concede (Insight, 1008). Hebrews 1:13 reads:
But to which of the angels did He ever say,
“ Sit at my right hand
until I place Your enemies as a
footstool of Your feet”? (Green’s Literal Translation)
This is a direct quote of Psalm 110:1, a psalm of David, which reads:
A statement of Jehovah to my Lord (adonai):
Sit at my right hand, until I place
Your enemies as Your footstool. (Green’s Literal Translation)
Adonai is identified with Interlinear Number 136 which cross-references to Strong and Vine’s entry for “adonai,” at page 6.
Not only is the Son not an angel, but this supports the interpretation of verse 8 which refers to the Son as God.
Third, it is important to note that verses 10-12 also play a significant role in the interpretation of Hebrews 1:8 because that is an Old Testament passage directed to God Almighty but “redirected to Jesus” (NAB notes 1, 8-12). Of the Son, He said:
And, “You, Lord, at the beginning founded the earth, and the heavens are works of your hands. They will vanish away; but You will continue; and they will all become old like a garment, and You shall fold them up like a covering, and they shall be changed. But You are the same and Your years shall not fail.” (Hebrews 1:10-12 Green’s Literal Translation)
Fourth, Hebrews 1:8 is an Old Testament quote from Psalm 45:6,7 (7,8) which also says in part “Your throne, O god…” (NAB). Psalm 45 is a royal wedding song. Here, “god” refers to “the king” who “in courtly language is called “god,” i.e., more than human, representing God to the people. Heb 1,8-9 applies 7-8 to Christ” (NAB notes Psalm 45:7).
Since they deny that Jesus is God, the Jehovah's Witnesses invert Hebrews 1:8 and Psalm 45:6 (7) to read “God is thy throne.” They justify this in part by quoting B.F. Wescott who in 1889 wrote regarding Psalm 45:6 that “It is scarcely possible that [Elohim] (god) in the original can be addressed to the king” (Reasoning, 422). Therefore, if elohim (god) cannot refer to the secular king, then a traditional rendering “Thy throne, Oh god” in Psalm 45:6 or “Thy throne, Oh God” in Heb 1:8 is not possible.
Their expert’s reasoning, however, contradicts the Jehovah's Witnesses’ own statement in the previous paragraph where they state “Hebrews 1:8 quotes from Psalm 45:6, which originally was addressed to a human king of Israel” (Reasoning, 422). Such an obvious contradiction is perplexing, especially in light of the official definition of elohim which actually did apply to secular kings and magistrates in the Old Testament, i.e.,
… rulers; judges, either as divine, representatives, at sacred places or as reflecting divine majesty and power, divine ones, superhuman beings including God and angels.” (Strong and Vine’s, 17)
A simple reading makes it quite obvious that Psalm 45 did in fact apply to a secular king, possibly Solomon. Psalm 45:6 also applied to Christ; it has a dual application as seen by reference to the throne lasting forever and ever. This cannot be said about that earthly Jewish king’s Old Testament throne at Psalm 45:6, but can be said of Christ’s throne.
Even though “throne” can refer to a seat (Matthew 23:22), heaven (Matthew 5:34), or grace (Hebrews 4:16) (Strong and Vine’s, 117), the Jehovah's Witnesses use it here exclusively with reference to “power and authority.” Thus, for them, “God is thy throne” only means God is the source of Christ’s power, authority and kingship (Reasoning, 422).
While at first glance that might be true, a deeper look at the use and application of “throne” (Greek thronos) shows that God’s throne is also Christ’s throne and if it is also Christ’s throne then it is illogical to say “God is your throne,” in the exclusive sense that it is a separate power or authority apart from Christ. It wouldn’t make sense.
For example, before the 1,000 year reign Revelation 3:21 refers to Christ sitting down with His Father on His throne, together. Christ is seen as being not only at the right hand of God’s throne at Revelation 5:6 but at 7:17 the Lamb is in the midst of God’s throne. And, at Revelation 22:3, after the millennial reign, the throne is “of God and of the Lamb;” it is both their throne, and “his servants shall worship Him” (NAB; “sacred service” NWT) which is a direct reference to the Lamb or the unity of God and the Lamb and an overt declaration that the Lamb shares the power and authority symbolized by the throne which implies equality.
Jesus illustrated the shared equality of power and authority with his “hand,” a metaphor for the power of God (Strong and Vine’s, 271).
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; 28 and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one. (John 10: 27-30)
Jesus is saying far more than the Father and He share a unity of purpose, as the Jehovah's Witnesses interpret these verses. Having the same purpose goes without saying. Verse 30 is “justification for v. 29; it asserts unity of power and reveals that the words and deeds of Jesus are the words and deeds God” (NAB notes 10, 30).
Out of the mutual recognition between Jesus and his own comes the gift of eternal life, and the ultimate security of believers, that is, of those who stand under the authority of Jesus (in his hand). This authority, and this security, are moreover the authority and security of God himself; say ‘Jesus’ and you have said ‘God.’ (C.K. Barrett, Peake’s Commentary, 856)
Jesus is not simply acknowledging unity of power and authority with God. To be God is to have God’s power and authority inherently. The illustration necessitates a unity of identity in the triune fashion because Jesus speaks of only one hand. If no one (including God) can take Christ’s sheep out of his hand, and no one can take these same sheep out of God’s hand (including Christ) there can only be one hand, the same hand. Thus, Jesus could rightfully claim that “The Father and I are one,” not two as the Jehovah's Witnesses argue, but one, and the same. Hence, Hebrews 1:8, “Thy throne, Oh God, is forever and ever.”
This is made all the more evident by Christ’s own proclamation that he possesses all power and authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18), and rightfully so because as mentioned in section 23 since there can only be one “First and Last” and since both the risen Jesus and God Almighty are “the First and the Last”; and, because “the First and the Last” (Jesus) is also the Alpha and the Omega, and furthermore, because at Revelation 21:5 the Alpha and the Omega sits on God’s throne, the throne of power and authority is that of God and the Lamb ultimately, as one principle. The Jehovah's Witnesses don’t realize it, but by interpreting Hebrews 1:8 to read “God is your throne,” they inadvertently concede that Jesus is God.
Fifth, this “kingship” or throne of power and authority lasts forever and ever:
[B]ut as to the Son, “Your throne, O God,
is forever and ever…, (Hebrews 1:8 Green’s Literal Translation)
Daniel 7:14, which the Jehovah's Witnesses cite in support of Christ’s kingship and dominion, or rule and authority, also makes it very clear that it lasts forever and shall never be destroyed:
His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. (Green’s Literal Translation)
But even the Jehovah's Witnesses don’t believe that. Their version of Jesus Christ, the angel, has a very limited, narrow role to play in salvation history and for all practical purposes He is dispensed with after the millennial reign. He is not regarded by them as the eternal king of an eternal kingdom, but reverts back to being an angel on the sidelines. They write:
Since sin and death are to be completely removed from earth’s inhabitants, this also brings to an end the need for Jesus’ serving as “a helper with the Father” in the sense of providing propitiation for the sins of imperfect humans. (1Jo 2:1, 2) That brings mankind back to the original status enjoyed when the perfect man Adam was in Eden. Adam, while perfect, needed no one to stand between him and God to make propitiation. So, too, at the termination of Jesus’ Thousand Year Reign rule, earth’s inhabitants will be both in position and under responsibility to answer for their course of action before Jehovah God as the Supreme Judge, without recourse to anyone as legal intermediary, or helper. (Insight, 170)
When God … raised Jesus Christ from the dead to spirit life in heaven … the heavenly Jerusalem received him into the midst of her organization of angelic sons in heaven, but as the Chief One among them, in the position of Archangel. (M. Alfs, Concepts of Father, Son and Holy Spirit [Minneapolis, Minnesota, Old Theology Book House, 1984], 71 n. 152) (Concepts)
The Jehovah's Witnesses should probably take a closer look at Hebrews 7:25: “Consequently He is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” RSV). This refers to the “intercession of the exalted Jesus, not the sequel to His completed sacrifice but His eternal presence in heaven, cf. Romans 8:34 (NAB notes Hebrews 7,25).
Sixth, the Jehovah's Witnesses contend that someone other than God is speaking at Hebrews 1:8, reasoning that “God, thy God” must be someone other than God, “showing that the one addressed is not the most high God but is a worshipper of that God,” and therefore presumably cannot be God speaking (Reasoning, 422). But this argument is weak because no mention there is made of any third party “worshipping” God the Son. It refers to what God was saying about the Son; it is not the Son or anyone else speaking, but God the Father speaking of the Son and emphasizing His divinity. Chapter 1 verses 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12 and 13 are obviously in reference to what God said, and it is no different at verses 8 and 9.
Seventh, the Catholic New American Bible at John 1:18 makes an emphatic declaration that the Son is God: “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.”
The only Son, God: while the vast majority of later textual witnesses have another reading, “the Son, the only one” or “the only Son,” the translation above follows the best and earliest manuscripts, monogenes theos, but takes the first term to mean not just “Only One,” but to include a filial relationship with the Father, as at Lk 9, 38 (“only child”) or Heb 11, 17 (“only son”) and as translated at Jn 1, 14. The Logos is thus “only Son,” and God, but not Father/God. (NAB notes 1, 18)