God (ο τεος ho theos). This Epistle begins like Genesis and the Fourth Gospel with God, who is the Author of the old revelation in the prophets and of the new in his Son. Hebrews 1:1-3 are a proemium (Delitzsch) or introduction to the whole Epistle. The periodic structure of the sentence (Hebrews 1:1-4) reminds one of Luke 1:1-4, Romans 1:1-7, 1 John 1:1-4. The sentence could have concluded with εν υιωι en huiōi in Hebrews 1:2, but by means of three relatives (ον δι ου ος hon class="normal greek">παλαι di' hou class="normal greek">λαλησας hos) the author presents the Son as “the exact counterpart of God” (Moffatt).Of old time (λαλεω palai). “Long ago” as in Matthew 11:21. Having spoken (τοις πατρασιν lalēsas). First aorist active participle of εν τοις προπηταις laleō originally chattering of birds, then used of the highest form of speech as here. Unto the fathers (πολυμερως tois patrasin). Dative case. The Old Testament worthies in general without “our” or “your” as in John 6:58; John 7:22; Romans 9:5. In the prophets (πολυμερης en tois prophētais). As the quickening power of their life (Westcott). So Hebrews 4:7. By divers portions (πολυτροπως polumerōs). “In many portions.” Adverb from late adjective πολυτροπος polumerēs (in papyri), both in Vettius Valens, here only in N.T., but in Wisdom 7:22 and Josephus (Ant. VIII, 3, 9). The Old Testament revelation came at different times and in various stages, a progressive revelation of God to men. In divers manners (διαπορως polutropōs). “In many ways.” Adverb from old adjective polutropos in Philo, only here in N.T. The two adverbs together are “a sonorous hendiadys for ‹variously‘” (Moffatt) as Chrysostom (diaphorōs). God spoke by dream, by direct voice, by signs, in different ways to different men (Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, etc.).
At the end of these days (επ εσχατου των ημερων τουτων ep' eschatou tōn hēmerōn toutōn). In contrast with παλαι palai above.Hath spoken (ελαλησεν elalēsen). First aorist indicative of λαλεω laleō the same verb as above, “did speak” in a final and full revelation. In his Son (εν υιωι en huiōi). In sharp contrast to εν τοις προπηταις en tois prophētais “The Old Testament slopes upward to Christ” (J. R. Sampey). No article or pronoun here with the preposition εν en giving the absolute sense of “Son.” Here the idea is not merely what Jesus said, but what he is (Dods), God‘s Son who reveals the Father (John 1:18). “The revelation was a son-revelation ” (Vincent). Hath appointed (ετηκεν ethēken). First aorist (kappa aorist) active of τιτημι tithēmi a timeless aorist. Heir of all things (κληρονομον παντων klēronomon pantōn). See Mark 12:6 for ο κληρονομος ho klēronomos in Christ‘s parable, perhaps an allusion here to this parable (Moffatt). The idea of sonship easily passes into that of heirship (Galatians 4:7; Romans 8:17). See the claim of Christ in Matthew 11:27; Matthew 28:18 even before the Ascension. Through whom (δι ου di' hou). The Son as Heir is also the Intermediate Agent (δια dia) in the work of creation as we have it in Colossians 1:16.; John 1:3. The worlds (τους αιωνας tous aiōnas). “The ages” (secula, Vulgate). See Hebrews 11:3 also where τους αιωναστον κοσμον tous aiōnas = τα παντα ton kosmon (the world) or the universe like αιων ta panta (the all things) in Hebrews 1:3; Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:16. The original sense of αει aiōn (from aei always) occurs in Hebrews 6:20, but here “by metonomy of the container for the contained” (Thayer) for “the worlds” (the universe) as in lxx, Philo, Josephus.
Being (ων ōn). Absolute and timeless existence (present active participle of ειμι eimi) in contrast with γενομενος genomenos in Hebrews 1:4 like ην ēn in John 1:1 (in contrast with εγενετο egeneto in John 1:14) and like υπαρχων huparchōn and γενομενος genomenos in Philippians 2:6.The effulgence of his glory (απαυγασμα της δοχης apaugasma tēs doxēs). The word απαυγασμα apaugasma late substantive from απαυγαζω apaugazō to emit brightness (αυγη αυγαζω augē class="normal greek">χαρακτηρ της υποστασεως augazō in 2 Corinthians 4:4), here only in the N.T., but in Wisdom 7:26 and in Philo. It can mean either reflected brightness, refulgence (Calvin, Thayer) or effulgence (ray from an original light body) as the Greek fathers hold. Both senses are true of Christ in his relation to God as Jesus shows in plain language in John 12:45; John 14:9. “The writer is using metaphors which had already been applied to Wisdom and the Logos” (Moffatt). The meaning “effulgence” suits the context better, though it gives the idea of eternal generation of the Son (John 1:1), the term Father applied to God necessarily involving Son. See this same metaphor in 2 Corinthians 4:6. The very image of his substance (Χαρακτηρ charaktēr tēs hupostaseōs). χαρασσω Charaktēr is an old word from τηρ charassō to cut, to scratch, to mark. It first was the agent (note ending = χαραγμα tēr) or tool that did the marking, then the mark or impress made, the exact reproduction, a meaning clearly expressed by χαρακτηρ charagma (Acts 17:29; Revelation 13:16.). Menander had already used (Moffatt) υποστασις charaktēr in the sense of our “character.” The word occurs in the inscriptions for “person” as well as for “exact reproduction” of a person. The word ψποστασις hupostasis for the being or essence of God “is a philosophical rather than a religious term” (Moffatt). Etymologically it is the sediment or foundation under a building (for instance). In Hebrews 11:1 μορπη τεου hypostasis is like the “title-deed” idea found in the papyri. Athanasius rightly used Hebrews 1:1-4 in his controversy with Arius. Paul in Philippians 2:5-11 pictures the real and eternal deity of Christ free from the philosophical language here employed. But even Paul‘s simpler phrase Λογος morphē theou (the form of God) has difficulties of its own. The use of περων τε Logos in John 1:1-18 is parallel to Hebrews 1:1-4. And upholding (περω pherōn te). Present active participle of ων pherō closely connected with τε ōn (being) by τωι ρηματι της δυναμεως αυτου te and like Colossians 1:17 in idea. The newer science as expounded by Eddington and Jeans is in harmony with the spiritual and personal conception of creation here presented. By the word of his power (ρημα tōi rēmati tēs dunameōs autou). Instrumental case of ρηματι τεου rēma (word). See Hebrews 11:3 for αυτου rēmati theou (by the word of God) as the explanation of creation like Genesis, but here καταρισμον των αμαρτιων autou refers to God‘s Son as in Hebrews 1:2. Purification of sins (Καταρισμος katharismon tōn hamartiōn). καταριζω Katharismos is from ποιησαμενος katharizō to cleanse (Matthew 8:3; Hebrews 9:14), here only in Hebrews, but in same sense of cleansing from sins, 2 Peter 1:9; Job 7:21. Note middle participle ευραμενος poiēsamenos like εκατισεν heuramenos in Hebrews 9:12. This is the first mention of the priestly work of Christ, the keynote of this Epistle. Sat down (κατιζω ekathisen). First aorist active of της μεγαλοσυνης εν υπσηλοις kathizō “took his seat,” a formal and dignified act. Of the Majesty on high (μεγας tēs megalosunēs en hupsēlois). Late word from εν υπσηλοις megas only in lxx (Deut 32:3; 2Sam 7:23, etc.), Aristeas, Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 8:1; Judges 1:25. Christ resumed his original dignity and glory (John 17:5). The phrase εν υπσιστοις en hupsēlois occurs in the Psalms (Psalm 93:4), here only in N.T., elsewhere εν τοις επουρανιοις en hupsistois in the highest (Matthew 21:9; Luke 2:14) or en tois epouraniois in the heavenlies (Ephesians 1:3, Ephesians 1:20). Jesus is here pictured as King (Prophet and Priest also) Messiah seated at the right hand of God.
Having become (γενομενος genomenos). Second aorist middle participle of γινομαι ginomai In contrast with on in Hebrews 1:3.By so much (τοσουτωι tosoutōi). Instrumental case of τοσουτος tosoutos correlative with οσωι hosōi (as) with comparative in both clauses (κρειττων kreittōn better, comparative of κρατυς kratus διαπορωτερον diaphorōteron more excellent, comparative of διαπορος diaphoros). Than the angels (των αγγελων tōn aggelōn). Ablative of comparison after κρειττων kreittōn as often. Than they (παρ αυτους par' autous). Instead of the ablative αυτων autōn here the preposition παρα para (along, by the side of) with the accusative occurs, another common idiom as in Hebrews 3:3; Hebrews 9:23. Διαπορος Diaphoros only in Hebrews in N.T. except Romans 12:6. Hath inherited (κεκληρονομηκεν keklēronomēken). Perfect active indicative of κληρονομεω klēronomeō (from κληρονομος klēronomos heir, Hebrews 1:2), and still inherits it, the name (ονομα onoma oriental sense of rank) of “Son” which is superior to prophets as already shown (Hebrews 1:2) and also to angels (1:4-2:18) as he now proceeds to prove. Jesus is superior to angels as God‘s Son, his deity (1:4-2:4). The author proves it from Scripture (Hebrews 1:4-14).
Unto which (Τινι Tini). “To which individual angel.” As a class angels are called sons of God (Elohim) (Psalm 29:1), but no single angel is called God‘s Son like the Messiah in Psalm 2:7. Dods takes “have I begotten thee” (γεγεννηκα σε gegennēka se perfect active indicative of γενναω gennaō) to refer to the resurrection and ascension while others refer it to the incarnation.And again (και παλιν kai palin). This quotation is from 2 Samuel 7:14. Note the use of εις eis in the predicate with the sense of “as” like the Hebrew (lxx idiom), not preserved in the English. See Matthew 19:5; Luke 2:34. Like Old English “to” or “for.” See 2 Corinthians 6:18; Revelation 21:7 for the same passage applied to relation between God and Christians while here it is treated as Messianic.
And when he again bringeth in (οταν δε παλιν εισαγαγηι hotan de palin eisagagēi). Indefinite temporal clause with οταν hotan and second aorist active subjunctive of εισαγω eisagō If παλιν palin is taken with εισαγαγηι eisagagēi the reference is to the Second Coming as in Hebrews 9:28. If παλιν palin merely introduces another quotation (Psalm 97:7) parallel to και παλιν kai palin in Hebrews 1:5, the reference is to the incarnation when the angels did worship the Child Jesus (Luke 2:13.). There is no way to decide certainly about it.The first-born (τον πρωτοτοκον ton prōtotokon). See Psalm 89:28. For this compound adjective applied to Christ in relation to the universe see Colossians 1:15, to other men, Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:18, to the other children of Mary, Luke 2:7; here it is used absolutely. The world (την οικουμενην tēn oikoumenēn). “The inhabited earth.” See Acts 17:6. Let worship (προσκυνησατωσαν proskunēsatōsan). Imperative first aorist active third plural of προσκυνεω proskuneō here in the full sense of worship, not mere reverence or courtesy. This quotation is from the lxx of Deut 32:43, but is not in the Hebrew, though most of the lxx MSS. (except F) have υιοι τεου huioi theou but the substance does occur also in Psalm 97:7 with οι αγγελοι αυτου hoi aggeloi autou f0).
Of the angels (προς τους αγγελους pros tous aggelous). “With reference to” (προς pros) as in Luke 20:9. So “of the Son” in Hebrews 1:8. Note μεν men here and δε de in Hebrews 1:8 in carefully balanced contrast. The quotation is from Psalm 104:4.Winds (πνευματα pneumata). “Spirits” the word also means. The meaning (note article with αγγελους aggelous not with πνευματα pneumata) apparently is one that can reduce angels to the elemental forces of wind and fire (Moffatt). A flame of fire (πυρος πλογα puros phloga). Predicate accusative of πλοχ phlox old word, in N.T. only here and Luke 16:24. Lunemann holds that the Hebrew here is wrongly rendered and means that God makes the wind his messengers (not angels) and flaming fire his servants. That is all true, but that is not the point of this passage. Preachers also are sometimes like a wind-storm or a fire.
O God (ο τεος ho theos). This quotation (the fifth) is from Psalm 45:7. A Hebrew nuptial ode (επιταλαμιυμ epithalamium) for a king treated here as Messianic. It is not certain whether ο τεος ho theos is here the vocative (address with the nominative form as in John 20:28 with the Messiah termed τεος theos as is possible, John 1:18) or ο τεος ho theos is nominative (subject or predicate) with εστιν estin (is) understood: “God is thy throne” or “Thy throne is God.” Either makes good sense.Sceptre (ραβδος rabdos). Old word for walking-stick, staff (Hebrews 11:21).
Hath anointed thee (εχρισεν σε echrisen se). First aorist active indicative of χριω chriō to anoint, from which verb the verbal Χριστος Christos (Anointed One) comes. See Christ‘s use of εχρισεν echrisen in Luke 4:18 from Isaiah 66:1.With the oil of gladness (ελαιον αγαλλιασεως elaion agalliaseōs). Accusative case with εχρισεν echrisen (second accusative besides σε se). Perhaps the festive anointing on occasions of joy (Hebrews 12:2). See Luke 1:44. Fellows (μετοχους metochous). Old word from μετεχω metechō partners, sharers, in N.T. only in Hebrews save Luke 5:7. Note παρα para with accusative here, beside, beyond, above (by comparison, extending beyond).
Lord (Κυριε Kurie). In the lxx, not in the Hebrew. Quotation (the sixth) from Psalm 102:26-28 through Hebrews 1:10-12. Note emphatic position of συ su here at the beginning as in Hebrews 1:11-12 (συ δε su de). This Messianic Psalm pictures the Son in his Creative work and in his final triumph.Hast laid the foundation (ετεμελιωσας ethemeliōsas). First aorist active of τεμελιοω themelioō old verb from τεμελιος themelios (foundation) for which see Colossians 1:23.
They (αυτοι autoi). The heavens (ουρανοι ouranoi).Shall perish (απολουνται apolountai). Future middle of απολλυμι apollumi Modern scientists no longer postulate the eternal existence of the heavenly bodies. But thou continuest (συ δε διαμενεις su de diameneis). This is what matters most, the eternal existence of God‘s Son as Creator and Preserver of the universe (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:14.). Shall wax old (παλαιωτησονται palaiōthēsontai). First future passive indicative of παλαιοω palaioō from παλαιος palaios for which see Luke 12:33; Hebrews 8:13.
A mantle (περιβολαιον peribolaion). Old word for covering from παριβαλλω pariballō to fling around, as a veil in 1 Corinthians 11:15, nowhere else in N.T.Shalt thou roll up (ελιχεις helixeis). Future active of ελισσω helissō late form for ειλισσω heilissō in N.T. only here and Revelation 6:14, to fold together. As a garment (ως ιματιον hōs himation). lxx repeats from Hebrews 1:11. They shall be changed (αλλαγησονται allagēsontai). Second future passive of αλλασσω allassō old verb, to change. Shall not fail (ουκ εκλειπσουσιν ouk ekleipsousin). Future active of εκλειπω ekleipō to leave out, to fail, used of the sun in Luke 23:45. “Nature is at his mercy, not he at nature‘s” (Moffatt).
Hath he said (ειρηκεν eirēken). Perfect active common use of the perfect for permanent record. This seventh quotation is proof of the Son‘s superiority as the Son of God (his deity) to angels and is from Psalm 110:1, a Messianic Psalm frequently quoted in Hebrews.Sit thou (κατου kathou). Second person singular imperative middle of κατημαι kathēmai to sit, for the longer form κατησο kathēso as in Matthew 22:44; James 2:3. On my right hand (εκ δεχιων μου ek dexiōn mou). “From my right.” See Hebrews 1:3 for εν δεχιαι en dexiāi “at the right hand.” Till I make (εως αν τω heōs an thō). Indefinite temporal clause about the future with εως heōs and the second aorist active subjunctive of τιτημι tithēmi with αν an (often not used), a regular and common idiom. Quoted also in Luke 20:43. For the pleonasm in υποδιον hupodion and των ποδων tōn podōn (objective genitive) see Matthew 5:35.
Ministering spirits (λειτουργικα πνευματα leitourgika pneumata). Thayer says that λειτουργικος leitourgikos was not found in profane authors, but it occurs in the papyri for “work tax” (money in place of service) and for religious service also. The word is made from λειτουργια leitourgia (Luke 1:23; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:21).Sent forth (αποστελλομενα apostellomena). Present passive participle of αποστελλω apostellō sent forth repeatedly, from time to time as occasion requires. For the sake of (δια dia). With the accusative, the usual causal meaning of δια dia That shall inherit (τους μελλοντας κληρονομειν tous mellontas klēronomein). “That are going to inherit,” common idiom of μελλω mellō (present active participle) with the infinitive (present active here), “destined to inherit” (Matthew 11:14). Salvation (σωτηριαν sōtērian). Here used of the final salvation in its consummation. Only here in the N.T. do we have “inherent salvation,” but see Hebrews 6:12; Hebrews 12:17. We do not have here the doctrine of special guardian angels for each of us, but simply the fact that angels are used for our good. “And if so, may we not be aided, inspired, guided by a cloud of witnesses - not witnesses only, but helpers, agents like ourselves of the immanent God?” (Sir Oliver Lodge, The Hibbert Journal, Jan., 1903, p. 223).
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Hebrews 1". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany