Chapter 1

1:1–4 - Prolog.

God speaks - that is the main point of this prolog.

To the fathers - previous generations - he spoke through the prophets,
To us - the present generation with the author - through His Son - Jesus Christ.

The present time is considered as “the last days” - eschaton. From this word we have the word eschatology.

Now comes the description of the Son. Seven facts in these verses stress the Son’s unique greatness and the culminating character of His revelation. For the writer’s original Jewish readers the number seven connoted a complete work of God, as in the Creation.

First, He is the “heir of all things.” All things will fall under His authority (cf. Phil. 2:9–11). The writer introduced the concept of inheritance here and proceeded to develop it in this epistle (cf. Ps. 2:8; Heb. 2:5–9).

Second, the Son “made the world” (Gr. aiones, lit. “ages,” i.e., the whole created universe of time and space). The Son was God’s agent in creation (John 1:3; Col. 1:16). He created both matter and history; both ideas are in view here.

Third, the Son is “the radiance of His [God’s] glory.” The Greek word apaugasma, translated “radiance,” refers to what shines out from the source of light. Jesus Christ revealed the glory of God in a veiled way during His incarnation. Peter, James, and John saw that radiance revealed more directly on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1–2).

Fourth, the Son is “the exact representation of His [God’s] nature.” The Greek word charakter, translated “representation,” occurs only here in the New Testament. Greek writers used it to describe the emperor’s picture on Roman coins and the clear-cut impression made by a seal (a facsimile). It did not express a general likeness but an exact duplication of the original. Jesus Christ let humankind know exactly what the nature of God, whom no one has seen, is like during His earthly ministry.

Fifth, the Son “upholds all things by the word of His power” (i.e., His mighty, enabling word). He carries all things forward (Gr. pheron) on their appointed course (Col. 1:17). Jesus Christ’s word has tremendous power and authority. It is the greatest force in the universe (cf. Gen. 1:3; et al.).

Sixth, the Son “made purification of sins” as no one else could. He did so by His self-sacrifice as a sin and trespass offering on the Cross and by His work as the ultimate priest. The Greek word katharismos, translated “purification,” means both removal and cleansing (cf. Mark 1:44; 2 Pet. 1:9).

“Sin” (hamartia) is a very common word in Hebrews occurring 25 times. The only other New Testament book in which it appears more frequently is Romans, where Paul used it 48 times.

Apart from passing references to adultery and the love of money (13:4f.), Hebrews says little about individual sins, and contains no list of vices comparable to Rom. 1:29–31; Gal. 5:19–21; or 1 Pet. 4:3. The fundamental sin for Hebrews is that of unfaithfulness to God, which may superficially appear as neglect or lassitude (amelesantes, 2:3; or nothroi, 5:11), but which in essence is rebellion against God’s will, and more specifically apostasy (2:1–4; 3:7–19; 6:4–6; 10:26–31).”[28]

Seventh, the Son “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” when He returned to heaven after His ascension. He took the choice place of honor and authority in relation to God the Father (cf. Eph. 4:10; Phil. 2:9; Luke 22:69). Here the writer introduced his key text, Psalm 110, which he proceeded to expound in the chapters to follow.

He rules over the church and the angelic host in heaven (Eph. 4:15; Col. 1:18; 2:10).[29]

Each one of these seven actions points to the full deity of Jesus Christ. The original Jewish audience, faced with temptation to abandon discipleship of Jesus for return to Judaism, received a strong reminder of His deity at the very outset of this epistle.

1:4 - the main point - Christ is superior to the angels

These seven facts also reveal clearly the Son’s superiority to any other of God’s messengers, even the angels. This superiority is clear too in the fact that His name is Son (singular) rather than sons (collectively). The Old Testament writers called angels “sons of God” (e.g., Job 2:1; 38:7). Jesus Christ “inherited” the name “Son” before creation (v. 2, cf. 5:8). Within the Trinity, God the Son carried out the will of God the Father in a way that corresponds to the way in which sons in biblical culture carried out the wills of their fathers.

This is the first of the writer’s 13 uses of the word “better” (Gr. kreitton) all of which contrast Jesus Christ and His order with what preceded Him in Judaism (6:9; 7:7, 19, 22; 8:6 [twice]; 9:23; 10:34; 11:16, 35, 40; 12:24). This word appears only six times elsewhere in the New Testament. The writer used many comparatives (e.g., “more excellent,” “lesser,” “better,” “more,” “greater,” et al.) to support his argument that the new Christian order is superior to the old Jewish order. This is also the first “signpost passage” in which a brief statement (in this case “much better than the angels”) identifies a main subject the writer proceeded to develop later (cf. 2:17; 5:9–10; 10:36–39; 12:11?).

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