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

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

General remarks. Much has been said on the subject of whether Paul, or some other person, is the author of this book. I shall offer a few statements in view of the importance of the question due to the general agitation. I believe Paul is the author because it has the same logical form of reasoning shown in his other epistles. Also, 2Pe 3:15-16 declares that Paul had written an epistle to the brethren, and his discription of it ("some things hard to be understood") indicates one consisting of logical discussion. It is true also that many of the Nicene writers (known as Apostolic Fathers) ascribe the epistle to Paul. These men lived only a few centuries this side of Christ, and hence had access to evidences that were well founded. Furthermore, there is no negative reason for ascribing it to any other writer, for the whole epistle contains nothing that differs in a single feature from the manner of Paul's language or reasoning. Heb 1:1. The principal subject of this book is the law of Christ over that of Moses and the prophets. The revelation of God's will was made known through Christ in the place of all other means in former times. The most outstanding disturbance of the first century of the Gospel Dispensation was caused by Judaizers. That means Jews or any others who insisted that Christians should conform to the Mosaic system in connection with their profession of faith in Christ. This book was written to show the errors in such a teaching. Sundry times and in divers manners refers to the many instances and various plans under which God used to give his revelations of truth to the prophets, to be given on by them to the heads of the units of His people.

Verse 2

Heb 1:2. Last days means the closing days of the Jewish Dispensation, since that was when Jesus lived in his personal ministry. The Son gave the words of the Father to the apostles (Joh 17:8) and they to us, and that is the way in which we of this age have been spoken to of God. Appointed heir of all things. Heir is used in the sense of possessor (Joh 17:10) because God turned all things pertaining to the new dispensation over to Him (Mat 28:18). By whom also he made the worlds. This refers to the cooperation which Jesus showed in all of God's works. See the plural "us" in Gen 1:26 Gen 3:22; also read Joh 1:3.

Verse 3

Heb 1:3. Thayer defines brightness by "reflected brightness," meaning that when Jesus was on earth he reflected the glory of his Father. Express image is from CHARAKTER which Thayer defines at this place, "A mark or figure burned in or stamped on, an impression; the exact expression (the image) of any person or thing, marked likeness, precise reproduction in every respect." God is not composed of substance as that word is commonly used, hence the word person as in the King James Version is a good translation. It means that when Christ was on earth, he had the form or image of his Father. That is one reason why He said, "he that hath seen me hath seen the father" (Joh 14:9). All of this agrees with the words of God that the man was to be created in "our" (God's and Christ's) image (Gen 1:26). Upholding all things by the word of his power. All power (or authority) being given to Christ (Mat 28:18), the arrangement of all things pertaining to the new system of salvation was disposed of according to His will and direction. By himself purged our sins. This took place when He died on the cross, thereby making the supreme sacrifice that was sufficient to purge all men from their sins who would accept it. By the death on the cross, the plan was made completely efficient, which is why He said "it is finished" (Joh 19:30). By coming alive from the grave, Jesus validated the purchase price of man's salvation, and then He was ready to return to his Father. He did so and was seated at the right hand of the throne of God, having been welcomed by the angelic hosts in the city of everlasting glory. (See the wonderful reception given Christ in Psa 24:7-10.)

Verse 4

Heb 1:4. Better does not apply to the personal character, for the angels who are living in heaven are perfect in that respect. Thayer defines the original word, "It is more advantageous." The meaning of the phrase is that Jesus was given a greater advantage in the great plan of God than the angels. The word excellent is to be understood also in the sense of advantage. By inheritance means that Jesus received this mentioned advantage through his relationship with God. It was not merely given to him as a man might see fit to give something to a stranger, but this was his by right of being the Son of God; he inherited it. While the favors or honors that the angels enjoy were given to them by the Creator of all things.

Verse 5

Heb 1:5. The more excellent name mentioned in the preceding verse is that of Son, as we may observe by the argument of this verse. God never said Thou art my San to a single one of the angels, as he did to Jesus. This day have I begotten thee occurred when Mary conceived of God by the services of the Holy Spirit (Luk 1:27-38). The angels were not brought into being by any personal relations between God and another being as was Jesus, but was created directly by the power of God. The rest of this verse restates the same relationship already mentioned.

Verse 6

Heb 1:6. When Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, God directed all the angels to worship him. That word in the Greek New Testament comes from several different words, and has a variety of meanings, depending on the connection in which it is used. In the present passage it means to "do homage" or manifest great respect for one. There are myriads of angels, and all of them were told to render homage to the babe in Bethlehem. The argument the apostle is making is that if such great beings as the angels were commanded to acknowledge the superiority of the babe that was laid in a manger, He certainly is to be ascribed a great giver of law. (If angels worshipped the humble babe thus posed in the city of David, common mortals like us should regard it an honor to be permitted the act of worshiping him today, when He is sitting at his Father's right hand, reigning as King of kings and Lord of lords.)

Verse 7

Heb 1:7. But even this contrast with angels would not mean so much, unless the angels themselves were important beings. Accordingly, Paul says God makes his angels ministering spirits, thus being very important personages in the great scheme of grace.

Verse 8

Heb 1:8. The superiority of Christ over all other beings (except his Father) is still the main subject. Thy throne 0 God. Jesus is called God because that is the family name of the Godhead. He is called God in Act 20:28, where his blood is mentioned as the purchasing price of the church. The throne of Christ is declared by his Father to be for ever and ever because He is to reign to the end of the age (1Co 15:24-26). A scepter is a rod or instrument that a ruler holds that is a token of his authority. The scepter connected with the kingdom of Christ is a righteous one, because it requires the citizens of the kingdom to live a life of righteousness only.

Verse 9

Heb 1:9. Loved righteousness and hated iniquity. This phrase expresses two completely opposite terms. Hated is from a Greek word that sometimes has a milder meaning than it does here. In the present passage it is defined by Thayer, "To hate, pursue with hatred, detest." Because Christ had these qualities, He was given the great honor that the verse states. The specification, God, even thy God, is made because the name "God" is the family name of the Deity, and Christ had that name by virtue of his being a member of the family. But in the work assigned to Him as head of the kingdom, He was to be a king and the Father was to be God over him (1Co 11:3). In old times it was customary to anoint kings with oil at their coronation. Christ was figuratively anointed with the oil of gladness or exultation. Above thy fellows means that Christ was exalted higher than any other ruler that had ever been on earth.

Verse 10

Heb 1:10. This and the following two verses are quoted from Psa 102:24-27. David was the famous ancestor of Christ, yet he recognizes him as his Lord (Mat 22:43-45). The work of creation is ascribed to Christ because he was associated with his Father in that work. It is so taught in Joh 1:1-3, and it is indicated likewise by the plural pronoun "us" in Gen 1:26 Gen 3:22.

Verse 11

Heb 1:11. The main subject of this epistle is the superiority of Christ over all other persons or things (except his Father). The works of creation, in the making of which He had a part, will cease to be even though He will continue. They means the things of creation mentioned in the preceding verse. Wax old as cloth, a garment is an illustration drawn from a garment that has reached the end of its usefulness. When a garment gets into that condition, it is discarded and treated as the next verse states.

Verse 12

Heb 1:12. A vesture is a covering piece, to be folded up or discarded when no longer useful. Changed is from ALLASSO which Thayer defines, "To exchange one thing for another." This is said with reference to the earth and the other parts of the material universe related to it. They are finally to be discarded and dissolved, and other things will be used in their place. (See 2Pe 3:10-13; Rev 21:1.) Thou art the same. Not that Christ will never change his position in the great plan of God, for He will cease to be the king after the judgment day (1Co 15:24-27). But He will never cease to be (as will the material universe), and in that sense His years shall not fail.

Verse 13

Heb 1:13. The second part of this verse is a quotation from Psa 110:1, in which David states something that God said of Christ. The point that Paul is making is that since nothing like this was ever said to any one of the angels, Christ is to be regarded as superior to them. Making His enemies his footstool is equivalent to subjecting all things to him, which is the thing predicted in 1Co 15:25-26.

Verse 14

Heb 1:14. Unless the angels also are important beings, there would not be much significance in being made superior to them. Paul recognizes this point by the statement made here in question form. Angels are among the instruments or agencies which God uses, in his treatment of and care for His own. (Read the following passages. Gen 24:7; Dan 6:22; Mat 2:13; Act 12:11 Act 27:23.)
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Hebrews 1". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/hebrews-1.html. 1952.
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