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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Hebrews 1

Verses 1-3

  1. INTRO TO HEBREWS
    1. Title: Jesus is Better
    2. When Spurgeon opened this text on the eve of May 21st 1882 he said, I have nothing to do tonight but to preach Jesus Christ.
      1. I start with the same, I have nothing to do today but to preach Jesus Christ.
    3. Remember a few years ago hearing about what happened in San Diego with 4th of July fireworks? Instead of ending with a grand finale...it started with one. The 18 minute show started 5 min early & lasted only 15 seconds when it accidentally caught fire...living up to its name, The Big Bay Boom!
      1. Here in Hebrews we also have the Grand Finally right up front. Let’s read it.
    4. Author? A standing joke at some Seminary’s, Who wrote the epistle of Paul to the Hebrews?
      1. Jerome & Augustine popularized the idea that Paul was the author.
      2. Tertullian thought Barnabas. Luther/Apollos. Others suggest Clement, Silas, Philip, & even Aquilla & Priscilla.
      3. Origen nailed it when he said, “Who wrote the letter to the Hebrews only God knows for certain.”
    5. To whom it was written? – Obvious the audience was Jewish.
      1. But we also know they had put their faith in Christ (See 3:1)
      2. But they were drifting away from the truths they had embraced (2:1)
    6. Main Theme? – These Jewish believers were being tempted to abandon the fullness of Christ & go back to the emptiness of a religious system soon to be destroyed.
    7. Thus a 2-fold theme: Jesus is better & Go on to perfection.
      1. Jesus is a better Messenger than the prophets & angels (ch.1,2).
      2. Jesus is a better Leader than the Moses & Joshua (ch.3,4).
      3. Jesus is a better High Priest than the Aaron & Levi (ch.5-7).
      4. Jesus is a better Covenant with better promises, sanctuary, & sacrifices (ch.8-10).
      5. Therefore we should live a better Life of faith, hope, & love (ch.11-13).
        1. So we have a series of arguments for the Superiority of Jesus over all trivial claims to allegiance.
      6. Let us go on to perfection (see 6:1)
        1. This is a book on maturity, spiritually growing up.
        2. Go on to perfection not back to imperfection.
        3. This book repeatedly demands a response from the reader.
          1. Ask yourself, am I looking back & craving the old life? Or, am I pressing on to maturity?
    8. The Father has chosen his Son to minister in 4 all-important areas:
      1. Slide#9 Outline: Revelation, Creation, Representation, & Purification.
  2. REVELATION (1,2a)
    1. Like a sky rocket shot into the air...so starts this epistle.
      1. In one paragraph we fly past the OT Prophets; through the incarnation; past the cross; then it bursts forth in the glory of Jesus’ exaltation.
      2. No opening greeting, no indication of the writer, no expression of good wishes.
    2. Note the immediate connection w/Jesus, Judaism, & the OT (1)
      1. He wants His readers to know that the gospel isn’t adverse to Judaism.
    3. At many times & in many ways –
      1. Polymeros - in many ways, in many parts. Fragmentary or progressive revelations.
      2. Polytropos - in many ways, in various manners. In diff locations w/diff methods of disclosure. e.g…
        1. To Moses @ Sinai in thunder & lightening & w/the voice of thunder. To Elijah in a still small voice. To Ezekiel by visions. To Daniel by dreams. To Abram in human form. To Jacob as an angel.
      3. Sometimes God used: direct oracles, other times Q & A; or by allegory’s acted out; or by preaching; or by signs.
        1. This dramatically demonstrated God’s loving desire to communicate with His people! (Kent Hughes, Hebrews Vol.1)
      4. Since God spoke so clearly it caused men & women to live on a higher plane.
        1. Abraham had the faith to sacrifice his son. Moses to w/stand Pharaoh. David to go against Goliath. Daniel to achieve & maintain integrity in Babylon.
      5. Yet Gods communication to man was still fragmented & lackinguntil he spoke by His Son.
    4. Jesus is God’s Final & Finest Revelation (2)
    5. Spoken to us by His Son
    6. Jesus was greater than the Prophets
      1. Like the Blind man in Jn.9 who 1st when asked who healed him said, a man called Jesus. When next asked he said, he was a prophet. Then lastly, he declared, Lord, I believe.
      2. Deut.18:17,18 And the LORD said to me:... 'I will raise up for them a Prophet like you(Moses) from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.
    7. Progressive Revelation:
    8. Remember, Judgment is based on the revelation you have been exposed to: But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you (Capernaum). Mt.11:24
    9. God 1st spoke to man via Creation - Showing they have not been put together by chance, but were wonderfully made by a Supreme Architect.
      1. The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, & their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun. Ps.19:1-4
      2. This Voice of Revelation alone is deafening…but many won’t hear it.
      3. And those who do hear…hear only partially...Job 26:14 These are just the beginning of all that He does, merely a whisper of His power. Who, then, can comprehend the thunder of His power?
      4. Often our ears are opened widest when life is darkest. (like John Bunyan writing Pilgrims Progress in 1675, while in Bedford County Jail for his faith)
    10. Next He spoke through the Prophets
      1. ​​​​​​​The OT, or the Hebrew Bible, or the Tanakh = Acronym [T,N,K/tav,nun,khahf] for the 3 traditional subdivisions: Torah (Pent.); Nevi’im (Prophets); Ketuvim (the writings/poetry).
    11. Next through His Son (which all the NT writers wrote about)
      1. Basically God wrote Himself into His own play. (As a director/producer can write himself into his own production)
        1. Like Mel Gibson using his left hand nailing Jesus to the cross. Gibson said, "I'm first on line for culpability. I did it."
        2. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, Thus God wrote Himself into our world.
      2. Many unbelievers have cried out to God wanting to hear from Him & shouted, “If you’re real say something”, or “do this or that so I’ll know you out there.”
        1. That’s not how He chose to reveal Himself. He has already spoken in volumes. If you want to hear Him, or from Him, you must listen the way He wants you to hear.
        2. Phone in prison cell analogy: Picture visiting a prisoner in Jail. On the other side of the glass he 1st tries to put his ear to the window, then tries placing a glass to the window; then tries reading your lips. Next he yells, “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” - You finally say, “Pick up the phone!!!” [it’s the only way & best way to communicate]
    12. Heir of all things –
      1. Sons are naturally heir of all things.
      2. Ps.2:8 Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
      3. What does Jesus inherit? Yes everything, but listen to the apex of his inheritance in Eph.1:18 that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.
        1. Paul was praying that his readers would understand how highly they are valued in Christ.
        2. Saints do you know that? Out of all of His inheritance YOU are His precious treasure.
        3. The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
  3. CREATION (2b,3)
    1. HE MADE THE UNIVERSE [He made the worlds]
      1. Quote Stephen Hawking
      2. Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking, who as been called "the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Einstein," says in his best-selling A Brief History of Time that our galaxy is an average-sized spiral galaxy that looks to other galaxies like a swirl in a pastry role & that is over 100,000 light-yrs across (Stephen W. Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1990), p.37.)– about 600 trillion miles. He says, “we now know that our galaxy is only one of some hundred thousand million that can be seen using modern telescopes, each galaxy itself containing some hundred thousand million stars.” (ibid) It is commonly held at the average distance between these hundred thousand million galaxies (each 600 trillion miles across and containing 100,000 million stars) is 3 million light years! On top of that, the work of Edwin Hubble, based on the Doppler effect, has shown that all red-spectrum galaxies are moving away from us – and that nearly all are red. Thus, the universe is constantly expanding. (ibid pg.38,39) Some estimates say that the most distant galaxy is 8 billion light years away – and racing away at 200 million miles an hour.
      3. The writer of Hebrews simply says, He made the worlds!
    2. Slide#20 HE MAINTAINS THE UNIVERSE [upholding all things]
      1. Col.1:17 He is before all things, & in him all things hold together.
    3. Through Christ, we understand where everything came from, where it is going, what keeps it going, & why it is here.
      1. With a Savior like that, why look for a substitute?
      2. Spurgeon, Other men had the threads of truth; but Christ took the threads, & wove them into a glorious robe, put it on, & came forth clothed w/every truth of God.
  4. REPRESENTATION (3a)
    1. ​​​​​​​Who being the brightness of His glory (3)
      1. Jesus doesn’t simply reflect God’s glory...He is part of it.
        1. This was shown on the mount of transfiguration, His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.
        2. The Nicene Creed says of Christ, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God
      2. Barclay said, “the glory of God is not the glory of shattering power, but the glory of suffering love.”
    2. The express image of His person –
      1. Image = impression, stamp, an exact reproduction.
        1. Gk. χαρακτηρ/character - As a coin reflects the exact image of the die, so the Son reproduces the precise character of His Father.
        2. Thus Jesus could say to Philip, He who has seen Me has seen the Father.
      2. Now, if you take these last 2 facets of Jesus it pulls together His deity & humanity.
        1. His Glory – Jesus is part of the source, 1 w/the father. (The Word was God) [deity]
        2. His Image – Jesus is distinct from the Father (The Word was with God) [humanity]
  5. PURIFICATION (3c)
    1. ​​​​​​​Purged our sins – His once & for all sacrifice for sins.
      1. Story from Ravi Zacharias: On November 26, 2008 a gang of Islamic terrorists stormed The historic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai. After the carnage that took over 200 innocent lives ended, one of the guest who had been at the hotel for dinner that night was interviewed by the media, and Indian born English actor. He described how he and his friends were eating dinner when they heard gunshots. Someone grabbed him and pulled him under the table. The assassins came striding through the restaurant shooting at will until everyone, so they thought had been killed. This man however found himself miraculously alive. When the interviewer asked him how it was that everyone at his table and everyone in the room was dead, and yet he was alive. His answer was sobering, "I suppose it was because I was covered in someone else's blood, and they took me for dead."
        1. ​​​​​​​This is a perfect metaphor of God's gift through Jesus for everyone of us.
    2. God has spoken to us…and what an awesome statement it was.
      1. Have you heard His voice through His Word?
    3. See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. 12:25 Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!
      1. Do you know His Son? He is God’s final word…there is no other.

Verses 4-14

  1. Intro:
    1. The Ishihara Color Test (named after its designer, #12 & #74) is an example of a color perception test for red-green color deficiencies. Each of these plates contains a circle of dots appearing randomized in color and size. Within the pattern are dots which form a number or shape clearly visible to those with normal color vision, and invisible, or difficult to see, to those with a red-green color vision defect, or the other way around.
      1. We realize just because a person doesn’t see something doesn’t mean its not there.
      2. Color blindness, or better yet, color vision deficiency (There is no actual blindness but there is a deficiency of color vision).
      3. In 2 Kings 6:8-23 Elisha was able to see the normally unseen beings but his servant couldn’t.
        1. (see vs.15-19) In Dothan. Elisha & servant. Syrian army surrounded them. Gods heavenly host surrounded them. Open his eyes that he may see.
        2. Why God gives some special glasses at times to be able to see them? so we’ll believe?
      4. We are going to talk this morning about Angels which are: created, spiritual beings with moral judgment & high intelligence, but w/o physical bodies. (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, pg.397)
    2. Read vs.4 to understand the rest of this chapter & our Title: Jesus Better Than Angels
    3. ANGELIC MISUNDERSTANDINGS
      1. 1st, which Angels are we talking about? Not the LA Angels of Anaheim, though leading the American League West.
      2. Distorted pictures of angels have been passed down thru religious art over the yrs.
        1. From chubby nude Infants, toting bow & arrow’s to soft, slim, girlish soothing angels.
      3. In Scripture the visitation of an angel was always alarming. Fear not!
      4. Angels do take a prominent place in the Bible. Mentioned over 100x’s in OT. 160+ x’s in NT.
      5. Some Christians have been influenced to believe we should pray to or venerate angels in some way.
      6. Some believe that when we die we become angels (not true). Death is a relocation of the same person from one place to another. Randy Alcorn, Heaven, pg.275
      7. Of course we are never to worship or to pray to angels.
    4. BIBLICAL VIEW OF ANGELOLOGY
    5. Angel means messenger. They were created before man. They were created simultaneously (they don’t procreate). They are innumerable. Have personality. Great intelligence. Moral responsibility. Sensibility. Emotions. Can render intelligent worship...Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts. Ps.148:2
    6. Angels is always in the masculine in Scripture.
    7. There nature doesn’t include bodies (they are spirits), though they may be seen in bodies & appear as men.
    8. They do not experience phys. death or cessation of existence.
    9. 2 CATEGORIES OF ANGELS
    10. UNFALLEN - Remained, & will remain holy through their existence.
      1. Michael – Arch-angel. Head of all holy angels.
      2. Gabriel – 1 of the principle messengers of God (to Daniel, Zacharias, & Mary).
      3. Elect Angels – are also called elect, holy angels.
      4. Principalities & powers – Probably included all angels (fallen & not fallen).
      5. Cheribim – Living creatures who defend God’s holiness (i.e. flaming sword in garden of Eden; 2 made of gold overshadowed the ark)
      6. Seraphim – Only in Is.6:2-7. 3 pairs of wings. They have the function of praising God.
    11. FALLEN - Didn’t maintain their holiness.
      1. Fallen from their 1st estate. Led by Satan, defected & rebelled against God. They became sinful in their nature & work.
      2. 2 Classes: Free & Bound.
        1. Free – Are demons or devils. They are Satan’s servants in all his undertakings & share his doom.
        2. Bound – Are reserved in chains unto judgment.
    12. THE MINISTRY OF ANGELS
    13. Given to worshiping God.
    14. Some, do not rest day or night, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come. Rev.4:8
    15. They were present at: creation (Job 38:7); At the giving of the law; At the birth of Christ (Lk. 2:13); At His temptation (Mt.4:11); At the garden (Lk.22:43); At the Res. (Mt.28:2); At the ascension (Acts 1:10); & will be at the 2nd coming of Christ, When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. Mt.25:31
    16. They also seem to carry believers to heaven. Lk.16:22 So it was that the beggar/Lazarus died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom.
    17. And, they minister to us (believers) – though unseen we should recognize their ministry which is constant & effective.
    18. Examples:
      1. They delivered Peter from prison.
      2. They watch our lives w/interest. 1 Cor.4:9 we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.
      3. They watched over Paul in Acts 27 regarding the shipwreck near Malta, there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve.
      4. They guide us to those who need conversion like Philip to the Ethiopian Eunuch, Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.
      5. They guide the sinners to the believers (Cornelius to peter)
      6. They are interested in our conversions, Lk.15:10 there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
      7. They cheer & strengthen Gods people.
      8. They defend, protect, & deliver God’s servants.
    19. SO, WHAT’S BETTER THAN ANGELS?
    20. Here, the writer of Hebrews, proves Jesus is better than the angels.
    21. Why is this an important argument? – Angels played a vital role in Jewish religion.
      1. ​​​​​​​The Law was given through the ministry of angels, What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Gal.3:19
      2. Acts 7:53 who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.
      3. What awesome beings angels are. They are intelligent, powerful, & wonderful beings…BUT they pale in comparison to Christ.
    22. The writer now shows 5 ways Christ is Superior to them. (using 7 OT vss.)
      1. Through: Sonship, Worship, Service, Existence, & Vocation.
  2. SONSHIP ISSUE (4,5)
    1. ​​​​​​​(4) Better – (13 x’s) better in power & superiority, not in goodness.
    2. (5) Son vs. sons – Though sometimes angels are referred to generically as sons
      1. Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. Job 1:6
      2. But No angel has had the title Son.
  3. WORSHIP ISSUE (6)
    1. These are the final lines of the Song of Moses in Deut.32:43, not in the Hebrew, but in the LXX (Sept.) that read, Let all the angels of God worship Him.
      1. ​​​​​​​Where do we have examples of angels worshiping Jesus?
        1. At His incarnation - Lk.2:13,14a And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest.
        2. Jesus undoubtedly was worshiped in eternity past.
        3. He was worshiped during his 33 years on earth.
        4. Is worshiped in eternity present (Rev.5:11-13)
    2. Firstborn - The title is one of rank and honor, for the firstborn receives the inheritance and the special blessing.
      1. Isaac was called the 1st born, even though his brother Ishmael was 13 years older than he.
      2. Esau was born before Jacob, yet Jacob becomes the firstborn.
      3. Then Jacob transfers the right of firstborn to Ephraim though he is the younger than his brother Mannaseh.
        1. Thus the J.W.’s are wrong in their interpretation of firstborn in saying Jesus was the 1st created being.
  4. SERVICE ISSUE (7-9)
    1. ​​​​​​​Angels are Servants & the Son is Sovereign.
    2. Spirits/winds & Flames of fire –
      1. Wind – Maybe the image of an angels swiftness, & their secretive work. (Of course we can’t see wind but see its effects)
      2. Flames of fire – Convey their purity.
      3. Flickering flame & the shifting of a breeze could also speak of their changing ministries (in contrast to Jesus’ permanent position at the Fathers right hand)
    3. His Throne, Scepter, & Anointing all point to His Sovereignty.
      1. Throne – His rule will never end.
      2. Scepter – His authority will be executed in righteousness.
      3. Anointing – His Anointing w/the oil of gladness was truly the joy that was set b4 Him.
    4. “It is impossible to logically think of Christ & angels as peers, any more than we could of a sovereign & his slaves as equals.” Kent Hughes, Hebrews, pg.39
    5. Don’t miss The Father calling the Son God in vs.8.
  5. EXISTENCE ISSUE (10-12)
    1. ​​​​​​​Key here, is that His creation will change like an old worn out garment, but He will never change. It is the Creator vs. the created.
      1. Heb.13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
  6. VOCATION ISSUE (13,14)
    1. ​​​​​​​Christ rules (13) & Angels serve (14).
    2. CHRIST RULING (13)
    3. Ps.110 is quoted more often in the NT then any other Psalm.
      1. The answer to the question in vs.13 is a resounding, None, not one!
    4. Enemies your footstool? – Absolute rulership is seen here.
      1. Slide#25 The Custom was for defeated kings to prostrate themselves & kiss his conquerors feet. Then the victor would put his feet on the captive’s neck so that the captive became his footstool.
        1. This has been often found on Egyptian & Assyrian monuments.
        2. Joshua 10:24 So it was, when they brought out those kings to Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the captains of the men of war who went with him, "Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings." And they drew near and put their feet on their necks.
        3. This was a symbol of the complete subjugation of the defeated enemy.
          1. Phil.2:10,11 at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
    5. ANGELS SERVING (14)
    6. In contrast to Christ Ruling, the angel’s vocation is that of serving.
      1. This doesn’t make theirs a disgraceful vocation, no way! It is simply inferior to the Son’s vocation of ruling the universe.
    7. As wonderful as Angels are...they can’t compare to Jesus.
    8. Our Superior Christ has assigned His angels to minister to you.
      1. And if He wills, He can deliver you anytime & anywhere He wishes.
      2. Christ is Superior to everything.
      3. He is adequate in your hour of need.
      4. You must believe it & trust Him w/all you are & have. (Kent Hughes)
    9. 3rd ONLY
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Hebrews 1". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/hebrews-1.html. 2017.