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Bible Commentaries

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary
Hebrews 1

 

 

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Verses 1-14

Let"s turn to the first chapter of Hebrews.

There has been quite a bit of discussion as to the authorship of this book of Hebrews. And many different suggestions have been offered by different scholars. Needless to say, we don"t know. There was no autograph on it. So we don"t know for certain who was the author of the book of Hebrews. It is my own personal opinion that Paul the apostle was the author. It seems to have a Pauline style. However, that is only my opinion, which is worthless. It"s only what God says that you can put your real confidence in. So, whenever I say something, I like to let you know that it is my own thought, and you can throw it out if you want and say, "Well, that"s just what he thinks." You should be doing that. You should prove all things and hold fast that which is good. For what it is worth, it would seem that Paul was the author to me, but a lot of people see different authorships in any number. The author is not so important, because, in reality, the Holy Spirit is the author. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" ( 2 Timothy 3:16).

This is a book written, of course, as the title would indicate to the Hebrews, to the Hebrew believers. Now, in the church in Jerusalem there remained a strange and interesting adherence by many within the church to the Jewish laws. In fact, they were seeking to press the Jewish laws on the Gentiles. At times they would come to the Gentile believers, such as those in Antioch, and they would disrupt the fellowship declaring to them unless you are circumcised and you keep the law of Moses you can"t be saved. Within Jerusalem there was a mixture of Judaism and Christianity. They remained Jews in their cultural practices, in their keeping of the cultural aspects of the Jewish law: not eating with Gentiles, the forbidding of eating certain meats, and so forth. This was a continued practice within the church of Jerusalem, going to the temple, going to temple worship. There were those who had, for a time, embraced Jesus Christ, who were actually going back to offering sacrifices in the temple worship again.

So the author of the book of Hebrews addresses the issue of Hebrew Christianity, and of the danger of turning away from Jesus Christ and trying to find salvation under the Jewish religious system once again. So we"ll find the warnings about those who have tasted of the heavenly things, the kingdom to come, who have gone back and tried to offer sacrifices before the priests for sins again. And showing that there is no other sacrifice; Christ is the one, once and for all.

But the book begins with the assumption of the existence of God, which is something that is assumed always in the Bible, never sought to be proved. It would be ridiculous for God to try to prove that He exists. Even as it would be ridiculous for you to try and prove that you exist. However, sometimes a person is put in that strange position. If your birth was not recorded, then you would have a difficult time proving that you exist to the United States government. You would have to go through all kinds of legal hassles to prove that you exist. So some people have had that problem of proving their existence. It seems rather ridiculous that I would have to prove to someone that I am existing. Here I am.

So with God, He did not seek to prove He existed. The Bible doesn"t seek to prove that He existed. God"s Word to us, the fact that He gives His Word to us, testifies of His existence. How could He speak to man if He did not exist? So, the existence of God is assumed, and then the fact that God has spoken to man is also assumed; two assumptions.

God, who at different times and in different ways spoke in times past unto the fathers by the prophets ( Hebrews 1:1),

So the acknowledgement that God has spoken, different times, different ways. The Bible, the Old Testament, is the record of the different places and the different ways by which God has spoken to man. In the book of Genesis, we find God speaking to man by angels. There were no prophets in the book of Genesis, but God was speaking to man through angels; they were the messengers. The word angel has as its root messenger. God"s messengers to man.

Then God began to speak through anointed men, such as Moses. And as the people said to Moses, "Now you go up into the mountain and you get the Word of God and you bring it down to us. We don"t want to approach that place. It is terrifying, and we will obey all that God commands you to say to us." So God spoke to them through Moses, through Joshua.

Then God spoke to them through the priests. So many times they wanted to know the mind and the will of the Lord, and they would come to the priest, who would inquire of the Lord through the Urim and the Thummim. And God would speak through the priest. And then as time progressed, God raised up prophets, and God spoke to the people through the prophets. And so, the Old Testament: the various times, the various ways. Sometimes God spoke to them in very interesting ways. And as Chuck gets into his class on Ezekiel, you"ll find some very fascinating ways by which God spoke to man through Ezekiel: lying on one side for a long period of time and then rolling over and lying on his other side.

And so God has spoken, various ways, various times.

But in these last days he has spoken unto us by his own dear Son [or unto us by His Son] ( Hebrews 1:2),

God"s final revelation was given to man through Jesus Christ. In other words, all that we need to know about God we can know about Him through Jesus Christ. The revelation of God up until the time of Jesus Christ was often misunderstood and often not complete. Jesus came to bring to man the final, the ultimate message of God. The ultimate understanding of God. So all that man is to know about God can be discovered in and through Jesus Christ. "Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son."

Now, this revelation to us through His Son is superior than all of the other revelations. His revelation through the Son is superior than the revelation through angels. And that is what we"ll be covering tonight. The first two chapters, the superiority of the Son over the angels and thus, of the revelation through the Son than through the angels.

In chapter3he will show us the superiority of God speaking to us through Jesus over that of Moses. For Moses, being a man, was able to lead the people to the Land of Promise, but he was not able to lead them in. He pointed to the land. He brought them to the land; he could not lead them into the land.

The revelation of God through Jesus is superior to that of Joshua, who, though he led them into the land, was not able to bring them into the rest (chapter4). And then beginning with chapter5 , the superiority of Jesus over the priesthood. This will carry us through chapter10 , as we see the priesthood of Christ compared to the Levitical Priesthood and showing the better covenant, the better way, the better sacrifice through Jesus Christ, the superiority of Christ to the priesthood.

And so God in different ways, in different times spoke to our fathers, but in these last days He has spoken unto us by His Son.

whom [and now we find seven facts declared concerning Jesus Christ:] he hath appointed heir of all things ( Hebrews 1:2),

God"s kingdom is yet to come, a glorious kingdom indeed. Through the prophets God revealed some of the aspects of His kingdom. He opened little windows and they looked on ahead into this time warp kind of an experience. They could see the glories of God"s kingdom, an earth where men lived together in peace. An earth that wasn"t cursed by commerce, but every man could freely take what he needed. Everyone"s needs were supplied. Men lived together in love and in harmony. A world in which there were no sick people, no physical impairments: where the lame would leap for joy, where the dumb would be singing praises unto God, and the blind would behold the glory of God. The prophets saw into this glorious age and this glorious kingdom of which the Father has ordained to put His Son over this kingdom. He shall reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. "He shall sit upon the throne of David to order it and establish it in righteousness and in justice from henceforth even forevermore and the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall perform this" ( Isaiah 9:7). So they foresaw this glorious age that God was going to bring to pass. Christ, the heir of all things, and we who are in Christ, adopted as sons through Him, have become joint heirs with Christ. So, God has appointed Him heir of all things.

Secondly,

by whom also he made the worlds ( Hebrews 1:2);

Jesus Christ was the agent by which God created the worlds, the universe. "In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God and all things were made by Him, without Him was not anything made that was made" ( John 1:1-3). Colossians tells us that He made all things. It was by Him and for Him were all things created. And by Him all things are held together, Colossians. And so, He is declared here to be the Creator.

Next of all,

Who being the brightness of his glory ( Hebrews 1:3),

In some of these Bibles that you have, you"ll find in the notes there the word effulgence. But, what does effulgence mean? The Greek word literally is a combination of two Greek words, the first being off and the second being shining. He is the off-shining of God.

There is surrounding God a glorious brilliance. The glory of God so bright that man cannot perceive it. Brilliant to see; a light unapproachable by man we are told, this shining forth of God. In heaven we"re not going to need any light of the sun or the moon, for the Lamb shall be the light. The glory, the outshining of God, through Jesus Christ will light up heaven. There"ll just be a glow about everything. Everything will just be glowing as you get there. Glowing with the presence of God, the Shekinah of God that lit the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle in the Old Testament.

You remember as they made the tabernacle as the priest came from the outer court into the holy place as he enters now into the tent itself. This first room was some fifteen by thirty feet. On the right hand side the table of showbread with the twelve loaves of bread, one for each tribe. In front of the curtain, the veil that went into the Holy of Holies, was the altar of incense. On the left hand side the seven golden candlesticks representing the Holy Spirit as we find in the book of Revelation. And these seven golden candlesticks lit the holy place, but when he went behind the curtain into the Holy of Holies, there was no light in there. There was the Ark of the Covenant and the cherubim, but it was lit by the presence of God, just the glow of God"s presence. Now, Jesus is the off-shining of God, the brightness, just that off-shining of God"s glory is there in Christ.

And then,

he is the express image of his person ( Hebrews 1:3),

Jesus said, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father" ( John 14:9). He is the express image of His person, or as we might say today concerning a kid, he"s the spitting image of his old man. The express image of God. So he who has the Son has the Father. He who rejects the Son, rejects the Father also. He is the express image of the person of God. You cannot love God and hate His Son. You cannot receive God and reject His Son. They come as a package. To have one is to have the other. Read I John. You deny the Son, you deny the Father. He is the express image of His person.

Then,

he is upholding all things by the word of his power ( Hebrews 1:3),

Now, it is interesting to me that in the beginning when God created the universe, He created it by divine fiat. That is, He declared it into existence. "And God said, "Light be," and light was" ( Genesis 1:3). Literally from the Hebrew, owr hayah owr, light be and light was. He spoke it into existence. And God said, "Let there be a firmament dividing the waters." And God said, "Let the dry land appear." He spoke these things into existence. And so the worlds were created by the word of His power, but the worlds are also being held together by the word of His power.

And as we mentioned this morning, in atomic structure there is an interesting phenomena and that is positive clusters, or positive charges clustered together in the nucleus of an atom that"s contrary to Coulomb"s Law of Electricity that tells us there is a repelling force of positive charges. If you had one tablespoon full of positive charges, just solid positive charges, and you set it at the South Pole and you had another tablespoon full of positive charges and you set it at the North Pole, it would take thirty thousand tons of pressure to hold the positive charges at the poles, because at that distance the pressure of the repelling force of positive charges would be so great that it would be pushing away from each other, and so it would take thirty thousand tons of pressure to hold them on the poles. Try and put positive poles together of magnets and you"ll find that it takes force to hold them together. You can put them together, but you have to hold them there by force, because the natural law of positive charges is that of repelling each other. Yet, within the nucleus of an atom clustered together are these positive charges defying the Law of Electricity.

We have learned how to upset the balance of the nucleus of an atom and allow the positive charges to follow their natural instinct of repelling and we have the atomic bomb; we have atomic fission. What we"re doing is just upsetting the balance, the structure in the nucleus of an atom, and allowing the positive charges to be released. We know the tremendous power that was unleashed when we allowed the positive charges to follow their natural bent in the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now that same power that was released, equal power is necessary to hold those atoms together.

So He has created an interesting universe that has a self-destruct mechanism within it. They talk about the Big Bang, but all that has to happen for another Big Bang to take place in the universe is for Him to just let go. It"s all being held together by the word of His power. He said, "Let there be firmament, let there be dry land," and it appeared. It is there, and all He would have to say is, "Let it go." And that force that is holding together the atoms, the positive charges within the nucleus, if it were released you"d just have a horrendous bang, and the positive charges would be heading to the vast infinite edges of space as they"d be pushing away from each other. You really wonder how powerful is the word of God that He could speak the universe into existence, but just as easily, He could speak the universe out of existence. How awesome is the God that we serve. Jesus Christ the express image of His person, upholding all things by the word of His power.

when he by himself purged our sins ( Hebrews 1:3),

It is interesting, we talk about God speaking to man through angels. Even in the New Testament God spoke to men by angels. It was an angel of the Lord that came to Mary and told her that she was going to bear the Messiah. And then during the life of Jesus the angels spoke. The angel told Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The angel warned Joseph to take the child and flee to Egypt because Herod was going to seek to kill the child. And when Jesus, after He was tempted by the devil, the angels came and ministered unto Him. And there in the Garden of Gethsemane the angels ministered unto Him. But when He was upon the cross, there were no angels ministering to Him. That was a task He had to accomplish by Himself.

It was significant in the Old Testament that on the Day of Atonement the high priest was the only one who could offer the sacrifices unto God that day. During the regular daily sacrifices there were different priests that would offer sacrifices unto the Lord, but on the Day of Atonement when the sacrifices were to be offered for the sins of the people, the nation, only the high priest could serve that day. He had to do all of the butchering of some twenty-seven animals or so that were offered that particular day. Then he would have to go alone into the Holy of Holies with the blood of the offering to make atonement for the sins of the people.

Significant, because Jesus, in making atonement for us, had to go it alone. No angels to comfort or succor Him there, but alone He bore our sin and our guilt and died in our place. He made atonement for you and for me. And so, "had by himself purged our sins."

And now,

has sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high ( Hebrews 1:3);

We see Jesus sitting down now, sitting down at the right hand of God. We are going to be told in chapter2of His waiting there until all things have been brought into subjection unto Him.

Now we begin in this point in chapter1discovering the superiority of God"s revelation through Jesus Christ, the superiority of Jesus Christ over the angels.

The Jehovah Witnesses teach that Jesus Christ was Michael the archangel, but here we"re going to find out that Jesus is definitely superior to an angelic being. He is not an angelic being elevated to a divine state. He was in the beginning with God and thought it not robbery or something to be grasped to be equal with God. He has coexisted with the Father from the beginning. "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God" ( John 1:1).

The Mormons would make Him a cherub, the brother of Lucifer. Lucifer was the anointed cherub. And being a brother of Lucifer, when God wanted to redeem the world, He called for these two brothers to offer their plans of redemption. And when they offered their plans of redemption, the Father chose the plan that Jesus offered. It made His brother, Lucifer, very angry. He came down and was determined to disrupt the plan of his brother, Jesus, through sibling rivalry. We will learn that Jesus is much higher than Lucifer. In fact, He is not an opposite to Lucifer at all. He"s not the good angel and Lucifer the bad angel, or the good brother and Lucifer the bad brother. It"s terrible to bring Lucifer to that elevation of an opposite of God or an opposite of Jesus. So many times we think of them, God and Satan, as opposites. Not at all. They are totally in different categories completely. God--self-existent, eternal, Creator; whereas Satan is a creation of God and does not come into the same category at all as God. Lucifer would be an opposite to Michael, the archangel, and they"re going to be tussling. They"ve tussled in the past. They"ve tussled over the body of Moses. There was a big dispute between Michael and Lucifer over the body of Moses. Michael didn"t bring a railing accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you" ( Jude 1:9).

When the angel was sent to Daniel with a message from God, and Satan captured the angel and held him captive, Michael came and set him free. [Note: Daniel 10:12-14] "That great Prince came and he set me free. I"ve come now to bring you the message," the angel told Daniel. Michael and Satan have come into conflict before, and in the book of Revelation they"re going to come into conflict again. Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon and his angels.

Jesus is not the opposite of Satan; Michael would be. Jesus, again, is the express image of the person of God. He is the off-shining of the glory of God. He is that which we see of God.

So he was made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, [that is, did God say,] Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? ( Hebrews 1:4-5)

Psalm 2:7 God declared of Him, "Thou art my Son, this day hath I begotten thee." God could never say that of Lucifer. God would never say that of Michael. It was said only of Jesus Christ. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" ( John 3:16). "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee."

I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? ( Hebrews 1:5)

The prophecy is in II Samuel the seventh chapter, of God to David when David said he wanted to build a house for God. Nathan had to tell David that God wouldn"t allow him to build the house because his hands were bloodied with war. "But you tell David that I"m going to build him a house and I shall raise up of David a seed and He shall sit upon the throne forever and I will be to Him a Father and He shall be to me a Son." God"s declaration to David concerning the seed that should rise up from David and reign over the world. With that announcement, David was speechless. As David knelt before God he said, "What can I say? I was nothing. I was only a shepherd kid chasing after sheep and You called me to rule over Your people. Now You"ve spoken of the kingdom to come. Oh God, what can I say?" And David, probably the most articulate person in the history of man, was speechless before the grace and the goodness of God.

It"s glorious whenever God reveals His love and goodness to us to the point where you just become speechless. As Savonarola said, "Worship, when it reaches the ultimate, words are impossible." God, You"re too much! What can David say? And again, and he is making several quotations. And it is interesting this fellow had a tremendous grasp of the Old Testament scriptures.

And again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him ( Hebrews 1:6).

You won"t find this in your Old Testament, but it is in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, which was a translation of the Hebrew into the Greek by seventy Hebrew scholars, thus the term Septuagint, who wanted the people to be able to have the scriptures in a language they could understand. And so they translated the Hebrew into the Greek after the return from the Babylonian captivity. It was called the Septuagint version. It is the Greek version of the Old Testament. And in Deuteronomy 32:43 of the Septuagint, this translation comes from that. "And let all of the angels of God worship Him." Now he has never said this of any angel before but of the Son.

And of angels [what did God say of angels?], He made his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom ( Hebrews 1:7-8).

Now, here is an interesting thing: Psalm 45:6-7 where God calls Jesus, God. John calls Him God in the gospel; Paul calls Him God; Thomas called Him God, "my Lord and my God"; and now God calls Him God. It"s a shame the Jehovah"s Witnesses have such trouble calling Him God when Jehovah Himself calls Him God.

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows ( Hebrews 1:8-9).

Going back to verse7 , "and of his angels he saith, "Who maketh his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire."" That is a quotation from Psalm 104:4. It is interesting that we will talk a little bit more about the angels and the ministry of the angels in verse14 , and I"ll wait till we get there to bring it up.

Verse10:

And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thy hands ( Hebrews 1:10).

Quotation from Psalm 102:1-28.

They shall perish; but you remain: and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail ( Hebrews 1:11-12).

Talking now about the eternal nature of the Son. Even the universe is going to grow old. The universe is growing old. The universe is gradually in a state of entropy, deterioration. The sun is giving off1 ,200 ,000 tons of mass every second. Given enough time, the sun will flicker out and die. The fire will go out in enough time. The heavens grow old like a garment, but You remain. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My word will never pass away" ( Matthew 24:35). The universe, the material universe, is going to pass away. Seeing then that all these things are going to be dissolved, speaking of the material universe, what manner of persons ought we to be? If the material universe is going to pass away and dissolve, it"s important that we be spiritual men and spiritual women and that our stock be in spiritual things and not in the material things, because they will pass. Lord, You"ve existed. You shall exist. You"re forever. You are the same; Your years shall not fail.

But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? ( Hebrews 1:13)

He never said that to any angels, and yet to the Son in Psalm 110:1-7 :l. Speaking of the angels,

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? ( Hebrews 1:14)

The angels are first of all ministering spirits. And that first term recognizes their ministry unto God. In Isaiah, as he saw the throne of God, he saw the seraphim as they were worshipping God saying, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty." In the book of Revelation, chapter4 , when John saw the heavenly scene, he saw the cherubim around the throne of God saying, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty." Their first ministry is to God, in the worship of God, there in the heavenly scene. But God dispatches them to His children to minister to us or to serve us at particular times of need.

When in Isaiah, as Isaiah was beholding in chapter6 the scene of the throne of God and the seraphim saying, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty," and as they are declaring the holiness of God, here is Isaiah realizing I"m a sinful man. Here is the holiness of God and he realized how utterably wicked he was. "Woe is me! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among the people of unclean lips." And God dispatched one of the seraphim with a live coal from the altar, and he touched the lips of Isaiah and he said, "Now you are clean." So, you see, there was a ministering spirit there worshipping God saying, "Holy, holy, holy," and when Isaiah cries out, "I"m unclean," then God dispatches him to serve man. So the angels exist, first of all, to serve God, but are dispatched to be ministering spirits to those who are heirs of salvation.

Now in Psalm it said, "He will give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all of thy ways. To bear thee up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone" ( Psalm 91:11-12). So these angels are actually ministering spirits, but God never said to the angels or to any particular angels, "Let the angels of God worship Him," nor did He say to any angel, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool." Because they are servants. Jesus is not there as a servant. He is there reigning. And a vast difference over the angels who worship and serve God continually there in the presence of God and Jesus who sits there to be worshipped and to be served, reigning there upon the throne.

 


Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.

Bibliography Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:4". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/hebrews-1.html. 2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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