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Bible Commentaries

Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
Hebrews 1

 

 


Other Authors
Verses 1-3

Jesus Christ – the Word of God

Hebrews 1:1-3

The great design of the book of Hebrews is to set forth the superiority of the Lord Jesus Christ over angels, over Moses, and over Aaron and his sons. It shows the superiority of his priesthood over the old priesthood, his sacrifice over all other sacrifices, and his covenant over the old covenant. It teaches the Hebrews the true knowledge of the mysteries of their law--the design, use, and meaning of its ceremonies. It is a book of warning against apostasy and a book showing the true glory of faith in Christ.

Hebrews 1:1. God spoke to our fathers in Old Testament times by the prophets. These prophets were Moses, Isaiah, David, Jeremiah, and many others. He spoke to them in different ways and at different times. He spoke to the prophets himself in a dream, in a vision, or by an angel; and the prophets delivered his message to the people.

What did he speak to them about? He spoke to them about mercy and redemption through Christ, the Messiah. Each of these revelations sets forth a portion of the truth about Christ (Acts 10:43; Luke 24:44-45; John 5:46; John 8:56).

1. Christ in prophecy (Genesis 3:15; Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6; Micah 5:2).

2. Christ in sacrifice (Exodus 12:12-14; Leviticus 16:15-22).

3. Christ in type (John 3:14-16) –the Smitten Rock, the Tabernacle, the Brazen Serpent, the Passover.

Hebrews 1:2. ‘Hath in these last days.’ This is a common New Testament phrase referring to the days after the coming of Christ. Some believe that the duration of this world shall be 6000 years divided into three parts –2000 years without the law, 2000 years in the law, and 2000 years in the days of the revealed Messiah. We have been in these last days since Christ came to the earth.

‘Spoken to us by his Son.’ The word of God, the message of mercy, the truth of redemption actually became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14; Matthew 1:21-23; John 14:8-10; John 10:30).

‘Whom he hath appointed heir of all things.’ All that the Father has belongs to Christ –the kingdom of nature, of providence, and of grace. It is not only decreed to him but he purchased it on the cross (Romans 14:9; Colossians 1:16-18).

Hebrews 1:3. There are three important things about Christ, our Lord, which are set forth in this verse –who he is, what he did, and where he is now.

1. Who he is? The brightness of his glory, the sole expression of the glory of God. The reference is to the sun and its rays. The Father and the Son are the same as the sun and its rays. One is not before the other, and they cannot be divided or separated. He is the perfect revelation and the exact image and character as the Father (Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1-3; John 10:30; John 14:8-10; Matthew 1:21-23).

2. What he did. ‘By himself purged our sins.’ The Lord Jesus of himself, by himself alone, and by the sacrifice of himself made atonement for the sins of his people. He took our sins upon himself, bore them, and died under the penalty of them, thereby abolishing them completely (Colossians 1:19-22; Isaiah 53:4-6).

3. Where he is now. ‘Sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high.’ The ‘majesty’ is God, the Father, to whom majesty belongs and who is clothed with majesty. His right hand means power, greatness, acceptance, and glory. Here sits the man, Christ Jesus, and all his elect in him. This shows that his work of redemption is finished (the Old Testament priests never sat down in the tabernacle, for their work was never done nor ever effectual) and accepted; and he awaits for its full revelation to the universe.

Hebrews 1:4. This is a note that shall be sounded throughout the entire book –the excellence, superiority, and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ over all creatures, all covenants, all priests, and all sacrifices. Paul starts with the angels. He is as much superior to the angels as a creator to the creature, as a king to his subjects, as a master to his servants (Philippians 2:9-11).


Verses 4-14

Christ more excellent than angels

Hebrews 1:4-14

Hebrews 1:4. This verse sounds a note that shall be sounded throughout the entire book –the excellence, superiority, and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ over all creatures, all covenants, all priests, and all sacrifices. Christ is as much superior to angels as his glorious name is above their name (Philippians 2:9-11). This is to discourage the worship and adoration of angels (Revelation 22:8-9). Angels are not to be worshipped, nor are men to be bowed to (Acts 10:25-26; Matthew 23:8-11).

Hebrews 1:5. To which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my begotten Son’? (Matthew 3:16-17.) Christ is the Son of God, not by creation as the angels, nor by adoption as we are, but by nature! His office as Messiah is not the foundation of his sonship; his sonship is the foundation of his office. He was the Son before he was the Prophet, Priest, and King (John 1:1-2; John 17:1-4).

Hebrews 1:6. When he brings his Son into the world, he says, ‘Let all the angels of God worship him.’ In many scriptures we find the angels of God attending to the incarnate Lord (Luke 2:9-14; Mark 1:13; Luke 24:2-5; Acts 1:10-11).

Hebrews 1:7. Referring to the angels, God says, ‘They are created spirits’ –nonmaterial, they die not, and they are ‘ministers of God.’ They do his bidding; they attend his presence and are ready to do as he commands. They may be called flames of fire for their power and swiftness, or burning love and zeal, or the fact that they are the executioners of God's wrath. The chariot of fire which bore Elijah away was perhaps angels.

Hebrews 1:8. To the Son, Jesus Christ, the Father says, ‘Your Throne, O God, is forever.’ Christ is God (John 1:1; John 1:14; John 10:30; Matthew 1:23; Acts 20:28; 2 Corinthians 5:19). The reason why his throne is forever and the scepter of his kingdom is righteousness, justice, and truth is because Jesus Christ is God!

Hebrews 1:9. ‘Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity.’ he showed this in casting Adam from the garden, in all his dealings with Israel, and in working out a perfect righteousness for his people; and he will show it in Judgment at the last day! ‘Your God’ may mean the Godhead or the Father; for the Father is the God of Christ as man (Ephesians 1:3). Because of what he has done, he is anointed with oil of gladness above all his companions (Colossians 1:14-18).

Hebrews 1:10. Christ Jesus is the Creator of all things--the earth and the heavens. Our Redeemer, our Mediator, our Saviour--the Lord Jesus Christ is the sovereign Creator. This verse is addressed to the Son as indicated in Hebrews 1:8. All these words set forth the deity, eternality, wisdom, and excellence of Christ.

Hebrews 1:11. The heavens and the earth in their present form shall pass away (Romans 8:19-22). The curse will be removed, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth, purified and without sin. But Christ remains as he is, without change, the same yesterday, today, and forever (Isaiah 51:6).

Hebrews 1:12. Clothes in time wear out and lose their beauty and usefulness. The owner folds them up, lays them aside, and replaces them with a new garment. Christ is unchangeable in his nature, in his person, in his offices, and in the virtue of his blood and righteousness. To rest and trust in him is to never die nor be ashamed (Job 19:23-27).

Hebrews 1:13. God the Father never said this to the angels. He never promised it to them; he never designed to give it to them, but to the Son, Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 1:14. The angels are servants to the Father, to the Son, and to his people (the elect who shall be heirs of salvation). The ministry of angels lies in things spiritual and temporal (or what concerns our bodies and souls), in directing and preserving us in journeys, in delivering us from outward dangers, in restraining things that would harm us, and in destroying our enemies. They also make known the mind of the Lord to us. They assist us in trial and temptation. They carry us to heaven and will gather the elect at that last day. They are sent forth by Christ to minister to us.

 


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Bibliography Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:4". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hms/hebrews-1.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, December 1st, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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