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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Hebrews 1

 

 

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Verses 1-4

Hebrews 1:1-4. Introduction.—In a majestic opening sentence the writer declares the theme which he proposes to develop in the chapters that follow. Christianity is the final and all-sufficient religion, for Christ is no other than the Son, who accomplished once and for ever the saving purpose of God. To His people of old God had spoken by human messengers, who could only disclose fragments of His will, as it came to them by word or vision or symbol. To His later people, whose lot is cast in the transition period between the old age and the new, He has spoken by one who is His Son. The supreme dignity of the Son is set forth under two aspects: (a) He is not part of creation, but the very goal and principle of creation. From all eternity God had decreed that He should be "heir of all things," and had made the worlds—the whole universe of space and time—through Him. (b) He is Himself of Divine nature, for in Him the being of God is manifested as the sun is in its radiance, or the seal in the impression taken from it. He is God's assessor in the government of the world. For a time He sojourned on earth to effect His redeeming purpose, but now He has returned to His sovereign place in heaven. So the name which rightly belongs to Him is that of Son, and from this it is evident that He stands infinitely high above the angels.

Unlike the Fourth Evangelist (pp. 745f.), the writer does not expressly use the term "Logos" (the Word), but it is clear from his language that he conceives of Christ under this category. Alexandrian philosophy had given currency to the idea of a second Divine principle—God active as distinguished from God transcendent. From an early time Christianity had seized on this conception as alone adequate to the significance of Christ, but with the essential change that the abstract Logos of philosophy was now identified with a living Person. In the remaining part of the epistle the conception of Christ as Logos gives place to others, especially to that of the ideal High Priest; yet the argument as a whole has to be understood in the light of these opening verses. Jesus is qualified to be our mediator with God because He shares in the being of God, while partaking also in our human nature and experiences.


Verses 5-14

Hebrews 1:5 to Hebrews 2:18. The Son is Superior to the Angels.—For this theme the way has been prepared in the closing words of Hebrews 1:14. The section may possibly be directed against angel-worship, which in some churches, as we know from Colossians, was encroaching on the faith in Christ. More probably the writer's aim is simply to enforce the supremacy of Christ as compared with even the highest of created beings. In Hebrews 1:5-14 he collects a number of Scripture texts which illustrate the relative worth of Christ and the angels. These texts are interpreted by the allegorical method—i.e. they are taken not in their historical meaning, but as symbolic utterances which have to be spiritually discerned. Two quotations (Hebrews 1:5), the former taken from Psalms 2:7, the latter from 2 Samuel 7:14, which declare Christ to be the Son are followed by another, apparently taken from the LXX version of the Song of Moses (cf. Psalms 97:7), in which the angels are commanded to worship Him. This command (Hebrews 1:6) is referred to some moment in eternity when God first revealed His Son to the assembled hosts of heaven. In the quotations given in Hebrews 1:7-12, taken from Psalms 104:4; Psalms 45:6 f., Psalms 102:25-27; Psalms 110:1, a special aspect of the contrast with the angels is emphasized—viz. that the angels are subject to change, while the Son remains the same for ever. This idea is obtained by supposing Psalms 104:4 to mean "at will Thou changest the forms of the angels, making them now winds, now flames." Against this text, which tells how the angels assume the shapes of variable elements, are set others which describe the Son as always supreme and steadfast. The final quotation (Hebrews 1:13) has been used already in Hebrews 1:3, and is taken from the passage (Psalms 110:1-4) which determines the whole thought of the epistle. Christ as the Son is throned at God's right hand, while the angels, as their name implies, are only servants, inferior in some sense to God's earthly saints, to whose welfare they minister.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/hebrews-1.html. 1919.

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