Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 1

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verse 1

God Has Spoken to the Fathers

The writer was so full of his subject that he did not take the time to extend the usual greetings or identify himself. Rather, he launched into a sentence four verses long. In that sentence, he completely previews the letter's subject matter. His purpose is to demonstrate the absolute superiority of Christ and His church.

The key part of verses one and two is a simple statement, "God has spoken." God spoke in several ways in the Old Testament. He spoke out of a burning bush ( Exo_3:1-6 ); in dreams ( Gen_40:8 ; Dan_2:19-23 ); and in a still, small voice ( 1Ki_19:12 ), to name but a few. The writer says God spoke to the Jewish forefathers through His spokesmen, the prophets. They were simply proclaimers of divine truth both spoken and written. Several passages make it clear they spoke with divine authority ( Exo_4:12 ; Jer_1:7-9 ; Mat_22:31-32 ; 2Ti_3:16-17 ; 2Pe_1:19-21 ).

God revealed His will a portion at a time, or at various times. He also revealed it in many ways. Close examination of the Old Testament will reveal that God truly unveiled His scheme for man's redemption one part at a time. Perhaps this was done to give man time to understand the things being revealed.

Verse 2

God Has Spoken in These Last Days

God changed His spokesman in these last days, that is, the days of the gospel dispensation. As James D. Bales points out, the contrast is between the time when God delivered His authoritative word through the prophets and the time when He spoke through His Son to us. During His personal ministry, Jesus made it clear that Moses' law was still in force ( Mat_8:4 ; Mat_23:1-4 ). He insisted it would not pass away until all of it passed ( Mat_5:17-19 ). Since part of the law was in force during Christ's ministry, all of it was in force.

Christ did not assume authority until after His resurrection ( Act_2:34-36 ; Rom_1:4 ; Eph_1:19-23 ). Thus, Jesus brought about the end of one age and the beginning of another ( Eph_2:15 ; Col_3:1-6 ). Peter announced the beginning of the last days on the day of Pentecost ( Act_2:16-21 ). Jesus now speaks to all who will receive His message. In fact, He instructed His disciples to teach all nations ( Mat_28:18-20 ).

God Has Spoken by His Son

The messenger during the gospel dispensation is the only begotten Son of God. Obviously the message is important if God sent His Son to deliver it to man. Psa_2:7-8 shows Jesus was appointed by God to be the Son. God planned for Him to receive the nations as an inheritance. Psa_22:22-27 shows He will rule over them. They will show their subjection to Him and honor Him by worship.

So we do not misunderstand, the writer tells us God made the worlds by the Son who is His spokesman. Such is in complete agreement with Joh_1:1-5 . It should also be noted that Jesus said it was His purpose to do the work God sent Him to do. He prayed God's will would be done ( Joh_9:4 ; Mat_26:36-44 ). It might appear Jesus was just another part of creation, yet Paul told the Colossian brethren Christ created the worlds. Everything now stands by His power ( Hebrews 1:17 ). All things are upheld by His word in that they were put in motion by and remain because of it.

Verse 3

Shining With the Glory of God

That Jesus was, and is, God come down to earth must be. His glory was testified to by the Father and the Holy Spirit at His baptism ( Mat_3:13-17 ). He shines forth with the glory that is the glory of the Father ( Col_1:15 ; Joh_1:14 ). Jesus is God's "express image" like the exact imprint of a seal in wax ( Heb_1:3 ).

Lightfoot sees "upholding all things by the word of His power" as referring to Jesus' responsibility for the "providential government" of the universe and His direction of its destiny. Also, Jesus is our redeemer ( Joh_3:16-17 ). It is in the likeness of His death, burial and resurrection that we are able to put away our old lives of sin. We thereby begin to live a new life ( Rom_6:1-23 ). Jesus was made a purification for our sins. He exercised His priestly office in offering His own blood in sacrifice for our sins.

Jesus told His disciples He would go to be with His Father. He also said He planned to build a place for His people ( Joh_14:1-6 ). The Hebrew writer declares, with the Psalmist (110:1), that Jesus is on the right hand of God in heaven. It is declared elsewhere in the Bible as well ( Eph_1:20 ; Col_3:1 ; 1Pe_3:21-22 ). His place at God's right hand is pointed to as a glorious hope of His coming again to receive us.

Verse 4

Christ is Superior

Jesus is the author of redemption. While on earth, He was lower than the angels (2:9). Lightfoot translates Heb_1:4 ; "having become as much superior to angels as the name he has obtained is more excellent than theirs." Jesus was lower than the angels while on earth. He resumed His position as one "better" than them when He sat down on God's right hand. The word "better," or superior, appears thirteen times in Hebrews. Once each in Heb_6:9 ; Heb_7:7 ; Heb_7:19 ; Heb_7:22 ; Heb_9:23 ; Heb_10:34 ; Heb_11:16 ; Heb_11:40 ; Heb_12:24 . It is used twice in Heb_1:4 ; Heb_8:6 . The whole point of the book is that Christ and His covenant are superior.

The points concerning Christ made in the previous verses are used as reasons He is better than the angels. His name is better than all. One day, at the sounding of Jesus’ name, every knee will bow ( Eph_1:21 ; Php_2:9-10 ). It should be noted angels were used in giving the law of Moses ( Act_7:53 ; Gal_3:19 ). However, the one with the excellent name of the Son of God delivered the new covenant. Christ's excellent name comes from His rank.

Verses 5-6

God's Statements Show Christ Is Superior

Christ's superiority to the angels can be seen in statements God has made about Him. For instance, Psa_2:7 is quoted by the writer of Hebrews in 1:5 and by Paul in Act_13:33 . In Act_13:1-52 , Paul points to the resurrection as the time Jesus was begotten of the Father. Joh_3:16 and Rom_8:3 tell us God sent His only begotten Son to rid us of sin. Rom_1:4 says, "and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." As another instance, 2Sa_7:14 is quoted. The writer says this is another verse recording God's words to Jesus, His true Son. All of these facts combined make Jesus greater than the angels who were involved in the transmission of the law of Moses ( Gal_3:19 ; Act_7:53 ).

In Heb_1:6 , we find a quotation from Deu_32:43 , which is taken from the LXX (or Septuagint translation). The Psalmist said something very similar in 97:7. Since the angels are commanded by God to worship Christ, He is obviously superior. Jesus was the "firstborn" in several senses. There can certainly be no doubt He was the firstborn from the dead. “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence” ( Col_1:18 ; Rev_1:5 ; Rom_8:29 ).

As Thompson writes, "In the Old Testament, the firstborn son was the recipient of special favors and privileges (cf. Gen_48:18 ; Gen_43:33 ). Thus, the term came to apply to one who is specially favored (cf. Heb_12:23 .) In Psa_89:27 the king is referred to as God's firstborn . Thus when Jesus is called the firstborn, the author is referring to his pre-eminence as one who has a unique and favored relationship to God." Notice Psa_89:20 says God anointed David, yet he was the youngest of Jesse's sons ( 1Sa_16:11 ).

Verses 7-14

God Made Jesus a King

God causes His angelic messengers to be changed into whatever form suits His purpose ( Heb_1:7 ; Psa_104:4 ). They are simply servants to do God's bidding. Jesus' greatness is seen in His kingship ( Heb_1:8 ; Heb_1:3 ; Heb_7:1-2 ; Psa_45:6-7 ; Zec_6:12-13 ). It should be noted the Son is here called God, whereas the angels were just called messengers.

Because of Christ's righteous character, God anointed Him with "oil of gladness." In other words, He honored Him above all others. That such anointing was an honor can be seen in Psa_23:5-6 and Luk_7:46 . Jesus is also said to be Lord, creator, eternal and all-powerful. He will roll up the heavens and is unchangeable ( Heb_1:10-12 ; Psa_102:25-27 ). All of these are characteristics of God and give proof of Jesus' divinity.

His authority as king can be seen in the quotation from Psa_110:1 , which is quoted in Heb_1:13 . Jesus and Peter also said this was a reference to Christ, the Messiah ( Mat_22:41-46 ; Act_2:34-36 ). He will sit at God's right hand, a place of authority, until all His enemies are put under His feet (compare Jos_10:24-25 ). The angels are all ministering spirits. They are not sovereign. Jesus is made sovereign by sitting at God's right hand. Notice the angels serve the King and for the benefit of all His followers ( Heb_1:14 ).

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Hebrews 1". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/hebrews-1.html. 2014.
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