Verse 1 Superior to the prophets (1:1)
Chapter one introduces us to Christ by describing some attributes about Him that puts him above everyone who has came before Him. We will learn that even at their highest, the prophets and angels were only men. I used a highly recommended commentary on Hebrews along with a few others doing my study through this book. I learned that in verse one, the literal translation reads that God has spoken "in Son." "By a son" conveys the thought well. This shows the rank and dignity of a Son. In verses 1-4 we learn seven things about Christ. Christ wasn’t a spokesman for God, but the Son.
Various times- In the Patriarchal age, God spoke to the fathers. They were the head of the home. God spoke directly to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Those who were called prophets: Samuel, David, Nathan, Solomon, Elisha, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah and the other prophets. "Sundry Times and divers manners"- This was done little by little. It is said that it is about 1000 years between Moses penning the first five books of the Old Testament and Malachi's writing. Moses wrote in the 1400's BC and Malachi in the 400's BC. Perhaps Isaiah 28:10 (read) is an inspired commentary on Hebrews 1:1. Psalms were written in over a period of nearly 1000 years, Romans is believed to be written over a period of 3 months while Paul was in Greece (Acts 20:3). The literal Greek of 1:1 means that God's revelations to Hebrews prophets was "in many parts" and given gradually. Likewise God's revelation was in "diverse manners" that is in a relatively short period of time. The NT was given during the first century in about 50 years.
Verse 2 Superior to angels (1:2-2:18)
1.) God speaks through Him (Jesus)
2.) Christ is heir of all things. The Son is heir. Perhaps this is first in the list because of in Hebrew thought, there is vital connection between sonship and heirship, especially if one is the only or unique son. Psalm 2:8 speaks of the nations and the end of the earth as the son's heritage. The Son shares ownership of all things with God the Father. The idea of heirship is important in the book of Hebrews and especially for us, for we are the heirs of salvation (1:14)
There is a major contrast between Jesus and the ancient fathers. In verse two "last days" means "at the end of the days." Sometimes when a national tragedy strikes some people say, "we're coming into the last days" as if those tragedies have offset the beginning of the last days, like a sign of the times. When the tsunami happened a few years back and thousands of lives were lost and the earthquakes that have happened within the last few years overseas, people were so sure that those were the times that Christ spoke about in Matthew 24. However, Jesus was speaking about something that would happen in the times of those living at that particular time. The topic in Matthew 24 was the temple in Jerusalem being destroyed. Tragedies that happen in our time are not signs that the world is coming to an end. "The last days" or "the end of days" ushered in with Christ's coming, destined to last until He appears "a second time" (Hebrews 9:28). We had the patriarchal age, the Mosaic age and now the Christian dispensation. Patriarch means father. Abraham lived in the patriarchal age where the fathers made the rules and the family and society were bound by these rules. After the patriarchal age was the Mosaic age. Christ was prophesied during this time, so there was knowledge of another age or time that would come. That brings us to the age where we are now--the Christian dispensation. Jesus gave
His last will and testament. We do not read of any other age that will come after this one. There will be no other prophets or laws that would come after Him. The Law of Christ will remain in effect until He returns. So, the world has been in the "last days" since the birth of Christ. And we learn that His Law did not go into effect until after He died (meaning before Jesus died, He and everyone else followed the Law of Moses until He died. At the point of His death, the New Testament went into effect.)
The Son is Creator. Through the agency of the Son the whole universe and time came into existence. Only God is Creator, and the author wishes to underscore all the way through that the Son is God as much as God the Father is God.
a.) Genesis 1:1-God created the heavens and the earth
b.) "3:22- "us" includes Christ (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)
c.) Colossians 1:15-16-firstborn-rank (Christ recreated everything on earth)
Verse 3 notes
Radiance of God
1.) The Son is the brightness of God's glory. Jesus came as the real light into the world and His glory was seen and He dwelt among humanity (John 1:1, 14). Jesus proclaimed, "If you have seen me you have seen the Father." (John 14:9)
The Son is the exact representation of God's nature (John 14:9). The Greek word 'name' has reference to character or authority which means a stamp or impression. The Son is the character of God. Who has greater authority than Christ? What title or name is greater than the Christ (which means 'Anointed One') or the Son of God?
2.) Jesus upholds the universe by word of power (Psalm 33:6, 9). Christ rules the universe by the power of His word.
3.) The Son is the redeemer from sin. What the Son is and what He does is very important. In order to deal adequately with sin, He had to come to earth and become man. This very thing He did. Christ's offering of Himself is a special theme in Hebrews, and here we have a clue to its significance.
4.) He sat down at the Father's right hand. Christ took His seat royally at God's hand. Sitting suggests that there was nothing more to be done. (10:11-12). The right hand of course, is the place of distinction and honor. In Matthew 25:33 when Christ was talking about the final judgment, He says, "And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goat on the left. There is a contrast here. Flip back a page or two in Matthew 24:40 He says, "Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left." I thought it was interesting when He said, one will be "left." I'm not sure if this is a play on words, but regardless, standing at the left hand of God means you will be 'left' to burn.
Verse 4 notes
This section concludes with the author of Hebrews stating that the Son has "become as much superior to angels as the name He has inherited is more excellent than theirs." So here we have the conclusion of what the author wanted to convey from verse 2--Christ is superior to angels. This is important to note because religious people today have interests in angels. Some people worship statues that resemble what we believe angels to look like, some people believe that they have guardian angels watching over them and so they rely on these to protect them instead of relying on God. So it is important to note that Christ is superior to angels. 'Angel' in the Greek language refers to a 'messenger'. It could be a person, and we see many examples of this in the Old Testament. Perhaps in the time of the writing of this epistle, Christians were tempted to fall back into Judaism and confess Jesus as an angel rather than a human being to avoid confessing Jesus as God. Doing this would mean that they would not suffer persecution that was often executed upon Christian during this time. In Acts 7:53 Stephen is giving his speech to the people there before he was stoned. He said, "you who received the law (The Law of Moses) as delivered by angels and did not keep it." Jesus' covenant and ministry is superior to any Jewish rivalry.
Verse 5 and 6 notes
You may have footnote in your Bible for Psalm 2:7. In this Psalm, David is telling what God said to him concerning Christ. Also the footnote 2 Samuel 7:4-17 is talking about when the Word of God came to Nathan (read). God has never said to any of the angels, "This is my Son in whom I am well pleased." Angels as a group have been referred to as "sons of God" but no individual has ever been called "son of God."
Now Jesus is in the lineage of David, so in a sense, Christ can be referred to as a son, but Christ is over David because David called Him Lord. We read of the lineage of David and Christ in Matthew 1:6, 16.
Verse 6 notes
This reminds me of what the psalmist said of Jesus in Psalm 110:1. Jesus also quoted this in Mark 12:35-37. Christ is the firstborn. This does not mean born first. To say that Christ was born first would contradict the Genesis 4. Cain was the first recorded born child. Adam was not born, he was created. Neither was Eve born, she was created. What "firstborn" means in this context is 'begotten of the Father'. Jesus was the first that came forth from the Father. It denotes superior rank. It is also used in Romans 8:29; Col 1:15; Rev. 1:5. The angels worship Christ and are under His control.
Verse 7 notes
Angels are servants like the wind and flames. Matthew 8:26, 27 we read how Jesus rebuked the winds. And the incident we read about in Leviticus 10 when Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire to the Lord and the Lord brought forth fire and devoured the two of them. The winds and the fire obey God and so does the angels.
Verse 8 notes
Some people contend that there is but One person in the Godhead. But they would have to explain verse 8 and Psalm 45:6, 7. Here God the Father is addressing the Son who is also called God. With the writer of Hebrews quoting Psalm, this means that this Psalm is a predictive prophesy. This is also difficult for Jehovah's Witnesses because the inspired writer says that Jesus is God. The RSV messed up Psalm 45 by having the writer say, "Your divine throne endures forever and ever." The RSV translation left Jesus with a divine throne but removed His Deity. The Jehovah's Witnesses translation (The New World Translation) purposely messed up Psalm 45 and this verse by stating "God is your throne." However, Christ is God according to both these verses. The speaker is the First Person and is God. The One addressed is the Second Person and is equally God.
Isaiah 61:1 (read). Notice how "Lord" is spelled in this verse. The first "Lord" is spelled with lower case letters and is followed by "God." In the second 'Lord' it is spelled with all caps. All caps "LORD" means 'Jehovah'. And notice what else is says-"Good News." The word 'Gospel' simply means "good news." So what this verse is conveying to us is that "Jesus Christ God (or Jesus Christ whom is God) is upon me, because Jehovah has anointed me to bring the Gospel to the poor or afflicted."
A contrast of the previous verses. The previous verse talks about those who worship. If you look at verse 8, we see Majesty language; one that is worthy to be worshipped.
Throne is where a king sits; a scepter is a symbol of imperial power of authority. Kingdom is a province having a king or queen as its head. So here we have a person worthy to be worshipped. In Exodus 28:41 we read about Aaron and his sons being anointed. The purpose of this is given; to ordain and consecrate them that they may serve God as priests. Later in this book we will study the superiority of Christ the High Priest.
Verse 10 notes
Verse 10 again makes reference to creation and Jesus creating it. Jesus is described as Lord. "Lord" refers to Jesus while "LORD" refers to Jehovah Himself. So we know that when the text reads Lord that Christ is the subject.
Verse 11 notes
Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words shall not pass away. Jehovah was and always will be and we read this in verse 12. 'Jehovah' means "eternal self existing one.' In Psalm 33:11 His counsel has not changed. The Law did, but not his counsel. Well what's the difference? This is not a contradiction. From Genesis to Malachi Christ was prophesied. He came, just like the God said He would and just as the prophets proclaimed. And Christ did just what He was said to do: Allow nations who weren’t Israelites to come unto Him and they would become His people. The 1st century Christians was bound by Christ's law and we are today. This tells us that from then until now, nothing has changed. Homosexuality, murder, adultery, etc., was practiced in their society and it still is today. Those works of the flesh were sinful then and they are now. Because those sins were widely practiced and accepted by society then did not mean that God would just change His commandments. He did not change with the times and He never will. We can also reference Hebrews 13:8, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
This section of the book concludes with the final thought of Christ being superior to angels by reminding the Jewish Christians and us that God has never said to an angel, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." Their ministry focuses on the salvation of mankind, verses 14-16
References used: Everyone's Guide to Hebrews, Neil R. Lightfood