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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Hebrews 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-14

Hebrews 1:1. God, who at sundry times and in divers manners, spake — to the fathers. By the personal appearances of Christ, the Word of the Lord; by voices, by angels, by visions, by dreams, and by impulses of the Holy Ghost. In these forms we have received all the glorious doctrines of truth, and particular revelations, and that chiefly in times of ecclesiastical trouble.

Hebrews 1:2. Hath in these last days, those new and good days foretold by the prophet. Joel 2:28. That old men should dream dreams, and young men should see visions; for God is not unmindful of his promises.

Spoken unto us by his Son, as stated on Psalms 2:7. Matthew 3:17; Matthew 16:18. Acts 13:33. Romans 1:4. He is the heir of all things in heaven and earth, the Lord, the head, the prince of life and glory.

By whom also he made the worlds. αιωνας, secula, “the ages;” that is, he created, for so Paul quotes the Greek word of the LXX, in Acts 17:24. “God that made the world, and all things therein.” By ages then we understand the duration of all creatures, and all the diversities of dispensations in their government, for Christ is Lord of all, the Immortal of the Immortal.

The Arians endeavour to evade the force of this passage, by allowing that Christ has prepared or made the new ages of the church. This cannot be conceded; for the word is put absolutely, as the Hebrew עולמים always is used, when speaking of the Divine Being; and St. Paul also uses it in the same sense, in Hebrews 11:3. “Through faith we understand that the worlds (or ages) were framed by the Word of God.”

Hebrews 1:3. Who being the brightness of his glory, the existing splendour of his glory. Paul speaks here as the prophets, for every word would be weighed, and brought to the strictest analogy of faith. By the glory, the enlightened jew would understand the Messiah, the God of glory that appeared to Abraham. The King of glory, as in Psalms 24:7. The glory of the Lord that was to be revealed. Isaiah 40:5; Isaiah 60:1. Beza well observes here, that we cannot contemplate the glory of the Father, except in the Son.

And the express image of his Person. χαρακτηρ της υποστασεως αυτου, “and character of his substance.” The note of Erasmus is, “And figure, as we may say, the express form of another, or the mark of the thing we desire impressed, as in wax. Augustine, in his book on the incarnation of the Word, for character understands the figure expressed. Jerome adduces this place in his commentary on Isaiah, and for character reads, form. Nothing is so proper to express the archetype as the image impressed by the seal. — This word, hypostasis, designates what subsists, and which the Greeks sometimes take for person.”

Christ thus subsists, the image of the Father’s wisdom, and power, and love. And how is it possible to divest this ever-subsisting glory of the Father, who comes, who goes, who hears, who speaks, of the idea of personality? No man should cavil at our plain words, unless he can give us better. — Who upholdeth all things by the word of his power; proof absolute that he made all things.

When he had by himself purged our sins. The great object of Christ’s coming into the world was to take away sin, by the shedding of his most precious blood. Almost all things, says this apostle, were by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission: Hebrews 9:22. Hence it was that David prayed, Purge me with hyssop, that is, with the sprinkling of blood, and I shall be clean; and hence also it is said, that the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1 John 1:7. The death of Christ removes the penal effects of sin, and its application by faith takes away the guilt and pollution from the heart. The efficacy of Christ’s atonement for this purpose is here ascribed to the infinite dignity of his person: he “by himself” purged our sins. It was his divinity that gave worth and efficacy to his sufferings; it is his blood as “the Son of God” that cleanseth us from all sin. By his one offering he hath for ever perfected them that are sanctified, and there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin. This rejected, the sinner is lost beyond all hope of recovery.

Having fulfilled this part of the priestly office, he entered the holy place, and took his seat on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Psalms 110:1. The session of the Saviour at the right hand of God shows the work of our redemption to be complete, and that the removal of guilt is followed by all the glory of sanctifying grace, to prepare us for thrones in his heavenly kingdom. So we are everywhere taught. Ephesians 5:25-27, 2 Corinthians 7:1. Titus 2:14.

Hebrews 1:4. Being made so much better than the angels, inheriting all the glory of the Father, and all the glory of the mediatorial kingdom. κρειττων designates not only better, but more excellent and powerful, in regard of his exaltation; for the glory is his own, both regal and priestly. In regard also of the divine nature, the glory is his own for ever. His name is ineffable and unutterable, as Agur has noted. Proverbs 30:4. What is his name, and what his Son’s name, if thou canst tell?

Hebrews 1:5. Unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? Here the ineffable generation of the only- begotten is designated, in which angels have no share. Neither have they a participation in the name, and the glory of the only-begotten of the Father. Neither was the incommunicable name of Jehovah ever given to a creature, as it is to Christ. Exodus 3:15. Jeremiah 23, 6.

Hebrews 1:6. Let all the angels of God worship him. Not only are all men required to honour the Son even as they honour the Father, but the angels in heaven are commanded to worship him. Those intelligences being called Elohim in the Hebrew, and gods in the Greek, it is also said, “worship him all ye gods.” Thus we read in Psalms 97:9. Thou Lord art high above all the earth; thou art exalted far above all gods. D. Kimchi admits that the course of psalms from 93. to 102. regard the mysteries of the Messiah; and so we understand the chariots of the Lord which were with him on Sinai; and the host of angels carolling his nativity to the shepherds. Luke 2:11.

Hebrews 1:7. Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. Faisant les vents ses anges, et la flamme de feu ses ministres; making the winds his angels, and the flame of fire his ministers. We cannot follow this reading, though it has some support from good authors; for by spirits, angels are understood; and by flame, the cherubim or burning ones are designated, as in Isaiah 6:2. Such also are the ideas in Psalms 18:10, when he rode in his chariot, on the wings of the wind, the cherubim and the seraphim attended in his cloud. All these are servants, but Christ is the Son.

Hebrews 1:8. But to the Son he saith, Thy throne, oh God, is for ever and ever. Who is he, called ELOHIM, ο θεος, the God? Answer: he is what he is called in his two natures; the God in excellence, the Mediator, anointed and exalted in his high office of priestly and regal dignity. No king, no alien shall ever succeed him on that throne. His rod or sceptre is a sceptre like the rod of Moses, a sceptre of righteousness, never to be broken like the rod of the oppressor.

Hebrews 1:9. God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. These words are cited from Psalms 45:6-7, where Solomon is said to be anointed above his brothers, by Zadoc the priest. Moses anointed the elders, and Samuel anointed David, but the Messiah was anointed by his Sire at the Jordan, Matthew 3:17; and God gave not the Spirit to him by measure. Now Christ is anointed above all gods, for his kingdom is everlasting. He shall establish it in judgment and in justice for ever. — His unction is the oil of gladness; all the graces of glory and beauty emanate from him. He is the king who anoints all others; of his fulness have we all received, and grace for grace.

Hebrews 1:10. Thou Lord in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. These things David spake when he saw his glory. Psalms 102:26. Here the apostle speaks, as in John 1:2. Christ began the creation. Christ shall subsist when it vanishes away. He shall bow the heavens again at the times of the restitution of all things. Acts 3:21. The Talmudists have said, that the Spirit which moved upon the waters was the Spirit of the Messiah. Genesis 1:2. St. Paul had rabbinical authority, as well as revelation, for saying, with the evangelist, that the whole creation was the work of Christ. John 1:3. Thus also we read in Psalms 33:6; Psalms 102:26.

Hebrews 1:14. Are they not all ministering spirits? By this question, and the interrogation is more forcible than a plain assertion, we have a new view of the exaltation of Christ over all intelligent beings. They serve; he reigns, and must reign, till all his enemies become his footstool. Why, oh Arian, dost thou pretend to love the bible, and degrade the Redeemer. The hope of all the earth is no hope to thy poor fainting soul, fed with the ashes and husks of a vain philosophy.

REFLECTIONS.

Had I the eloquence of Paul, and the fire that glowed in the first preachers of christianity, I would gladly introduce the reader into the society of those that first believed on the Lord, and loved one another as Christ had loved them. I would gladly lead him to the new temple built on the tops of the mountains, as a refuge for the saints, the old sanctuary being decayed, and involved in flames. Her foundation is the holy hill. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved. Paul having said that the church is the pillar and ground of truth, God manifested in the flesh, he here dispreads that foundation in all its celestial glory. It is not a new religion, but the rock which God had laid in Zion. He who formerly spake by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken to us by his Son. The only-begotten of the Father; the Son who is the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of his person. He is Lord of all. The stone, rejected of the builders, is now made the head of the corner.

While the wicked jews were outraging the Saviour, and loading his name with execrations, Paul speaks as the faithful and the true witness who had seen the Lord of glory. If otherwise, why should he, and the christians, reputed Nazarenes, suffer all those indignities for a Unitarian Jesus, the son of Joseph and of Mary? Paul declares what he had heard and seen, that the Lord Christ was the heir and Lord of all; that he had on Calvary demonstrated his love beyond example and degree, by becoming the priest, the altar, and the sacrifice for our sins. His words are bold and strong; they cannot be shaken.

For a cloud of reasons Paul will not allow the Redeemer to be numbered with created beings, nor classed with the highest angels. He is over all, God blessed for ever. His honour, announced by voices from the excellent glory; his throne, which is eternal; his worship, which comprised that of all heaven, forbid all compromise with enemies. They who draw back from this faith must drink the bitter cup with which an angry God once drenched the rebellious jews. He is the Eternal Word who laid the foundations of the earth, stretched out the heavens like a curtain, and at whose command they shall depart as a scroll of parchment, and vanish away. But he shall remain — Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/hebrews-1.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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