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Bible Commentaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary
Hebrews 1

 

 

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Verse 1

CONTENTS

God is declared in the opening of this Chapter, as speaking to the Church, by his Son. Then follows a short, but exalted Description, of the Glories of Christ's Person and Character.


Verse 1-2

(1) God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, (2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

From the opening of the Epistle, in the solemn and striking manner, in which we have the Son of God introduced; I humbly conceive, that God the Spirit, intended thereby that the Church, should have proper conceptions of the dignity of his Person, before we are brought acquainted with the nature of his offices. Hence a line of everlasting distinction, is at once drawn, between him, and the highest order, of all his servants, whether angels, or men. And whereas in all former revelations, God spake in time past, through the ministry of the Prophets; now in this last and final dispensation, he speaks openly to the Church by his Son.

Now before the Reader goes a step further, I pray him to pause and consider, in what a glorious display of dignity and power, the Son of God is here introduced. In no method, but the Gospel method, could this manifestation be made. When God went forth in acts of creation, there was nothing of a personal nature in relation to the manner of existence, in the divine essence made known. The Holy Three in One, are represented indeed, as conferring on the subject of forming man's creation, different from what is said at the creation of other inferior creatures: but nothing more, by which the personal manifestations of each might be known, Genesis 1:26. It is in redemption, the several distinct acts of each glorious Person, in the Godhead, become manifest: so that we may truly say, the first footsteps of the Holy Persons of the Godhead are first traced in Christ and the love or God in Christ to his Church here first broke forth, in open revelation to the Church. The Son of God comes forth from the invisibility, in which God in his threefold character of Persons by his very nature, and essence dwells; and makes known the sacred purposes of his will. God hath spoken to us by his Son. To this agrees in beautiful correspondence, what another inspired Apostle hath recorded: No man hath seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him, John 1:18. How the Son of God comes, and through what medium, his communications are made; is spoken of elsewhere. We are informed of his incarnation, and all the blessed events connected with that mysterious act, in those scriptures, which sum up the account of his wonderful Person, and character, by saying, that in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, Colossians 2:9. But in this place, no more is said, in relation to the difference between him, and his servants, than that the last days revelation, are not as were the former. This glorious truth marks the striking distinction, and here it stands, as the title page, and contents of this whole book of God; God hath spoken to us by his Son. I pray the Reader, to note this, in the deepest memorandums of his heart, in proof of the Godhead of Christ and then prosecute what next follows, concerning his Person and Offices.

He is said, to be appointed heir of all things. This cannot be said of him as God; for his heirship, if it were supposed taken in this sense, could not be an appointed heirship: for by birth-right it is his. But in the mystery of his Person, it is spoken of him as God-Man. And in this sense, he is truly and properly appointed heir of all things. And the Church, are made heirs in him. Heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, Romans 8:17. Oh! the privilege of God's children!

By whom also he made the worlds. Yes! this is a most clear, and decided doctrine of scripture. God created all things by Jesus Christ, Ephesians 3:9. And according to the Holy Ghost's account, by Paul, to the Church of the Colossians: not only all things were created by Him, but for Him; and by Him, all things consist. Indeed from that most blessed scripture, as well as some others, we are led to conclude, that without this mysterious Person, in his double nature, God and Man, in One; there could have been nothing for creation to have rested upon. Nothing could have stood, or subsisted, but by dependence upon God. And yet nothing could have stood, in any way of subsistence with God. In the person therefore of God-Man alone, we find an adequate foundation to rest upon: And of Him, and Him only, as is soon after said, in this chapter, and confirmed by other scriptures, we find One competent to the Almighty work, of upholding all things by the word of his power, John 1:3-4. I pray the Reader not to pass away before that he hath looked for further confirmation, to Colossians 1:15-17 with Commentary.


Verse 3

(3) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

The Holy Ghost by his servant hath here given a further description of the infinite dignity of Christ's Person. Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his Person; and upholding all things by the word of his power. I pray the Reader to mark, with due attention, those glorious distinctions of character, by which the Person of Christ is here revealed. He is said, to be the brightness of his Father's glory. Not made so, but being so: Consequently the same oneness of nature, and essence with the Father. And when it is added, the express image of his Person; meaning, that by virtue of the Son of God, assuming manhood, he becomes the visible representation, of what without this medium, was, and is, and cannot but be agreeably to that blessed scripture, that in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, Colossians 2:9. And in relation to his upholding all things by the word of his power, nothing can he more plain, than that, as God-Man Mediator, he hath power given him over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as the Father hath given him, John 17:2. And no less, doth he uphold the whole of Creation, which he hath made; being the natural, and immediate result, for which God in his threefold character of Persons, went forth in acts of creation, by Jesus Christ, that he, as the visible Jehovah, it all Covenant transactions, should reign, and control all things, in all the departments of nature, providence, grace, and glory, Daniel 4:34-35; Ephesians 1:10. Reader! pause before you proceed further and contemplate the glories of his Person, as here drawn, by the Holy Ghost. Well might Paul desire to relinquish all other knowledge, for the knowledge of Christ, Philippians 3:8-9. And well might he pray for the Church, that this, above all other blessings, might be their portion, Ephesians 1:15 to the end. And yet, Reader! this is He whom man despiseth! This is He whom the nation abhorreth, Isaiah 49:7. What man? What nation? Yea, every man, and every nation, unacquainted with his mysterious Person, God-Man! And is not the present, as well as the nation of the Jews of old, a Christ-despising generation? But concerning those to whom God the Holy Ghost hath revealed him, Jesus thus speaks; Father! I will, that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me, John 17:24.

But the scripture proceeds, When he had by himself, purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Reader! pray observe, what an emphasis, God the Holy Ghost, lays on this account of Christ. The purging our sins, is made to appear, a greater work in the Heir of all things; than even the creation of the worlds by him. For the one was simply the act of his Almighty power: But the other, is not only the act of his Almighty power, and his Almighty love; but the giving of himself in the purging our sins by himself. Not merely, an exertion of power: not the gift of his property, his works, or actions, or will, or design: not giving his creation, and all the creatures he had given life unto, in calling them into being; not these; but himself, his Person, his whole human nature as he himself calleth it, my flesh which I will give for the life of the world! John 6:51. The preciousness of the work; the love of Him that performed it; and the extensiveness of the efficacy of it; none but God himself, can form any idea thereof. It is said, that his very name is such, that no man knew but he himself, Revelation 19:12. And if so, what must be his work: and such a work, as that of purging our sins by himself? Reader! I know not how to leave the sweet meditation. Jesus by himself purged our sins! It was himself, his own proper Person; himself, both Altar, Priest, and Sacrifice. He made himself an offering for sins; yea, to sum up all, as this sweet scripture hath it, for none can be more full, or more expressive: by himself purged our sins! Oh! the love of God which passeth knowledge! The Father gave his Son, his elect in whom his soul delighteth. The Son gave himself, and by himself purged our sins. And God the Holy Ghost confirms the whole by regeneration, to his redeemed for in the whole manifestations of grace, he was justified in the Spirit, 1 Timothy 3:16.

But we must not stop here. When he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. There is a vast deal of importance in those scriptures, connected together: and it is plain, that they are joined here by the Holy Ghost, purposely for the comfort and joy of the Church, on this account. It is, as if the Lord had said, by way of confirmation, that Jesus by himself, hath purged and done away all your sins; and he is returned to heaven, and is sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having finished the work the Father gave him to do, Paul in one scripture, and Peter in another, make this return of Christ to heaven, as the most complete answer to all the accusations of hell, and the sinner's conscience; yea, to all the demands of God's law, and justice on account of sin. Who (saith Paul) shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died; yea, rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, Romans 8:33; Rom_8:39. As much as to say; what fears can now arise, to distress the Lord's redeemed ones? God the Father hath received him, at the heavenly Court, and said unto him; sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool, Psalms 110:1. And Peter following up the same blessed truth, with a rapture of holy joy and triumph, tells the Church, that Christ is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God: angels, and authorities, being made subject unto him, 1 Peter 3:22. Reader! do not lose sight of these blessed things, for they are most blessed. Your Jesus would never have returned to his Father, had his work been unfinished, He hereby proved that he had by himself purged our sins. Hence this act, most fully certified, that not only sin, with all its tremendous consequences, was forever done away: but that justification to life, was also secured, by his entrance into heaven. Hence that sweet scripture: he was delivered for our offences, and raised again for out justification, Romans 4:25. Neither is this all, For Christ's sitting down, at the right hand of the Majesty on high, is spoken of in another scripture, as contrasted to the actions of those Priests who daily stand to minister in sacrifices. For every priest, standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sin. But this man after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down on the right hand of God: from henceforth expecting, till his enemies be made his footstool: (according to God's word and oath, Ps 110) for by one offering, he hath perfected, forever, them that are sanctified, Hebrews 10:11-14. Nothing can be more beautiful and decisive, on this ground than those different actions of standing and sitting. The priests of old stood, while in their ministry, in proof that they had no power to finish it: and their daily labors, as daily carried conviction with them, that they were only, the shadow of good things to come, Hebrews 10:1. But Jesus when he had by himself purged our sins, returned to glory, and sat down, in proof, that he had entered into his rest once for all, having obtained eternal redemption for us, Hebrews 9:11-12. Once more, the Holy Ghost is express also to teach the Church, that in this entrance of Christ into heaven, it is as our fore-runner; Hebrews 6:20. And where his redeemed must follow. Nay, we are said already by faith to sit together with Christ in heavenly places, Ephesians 2:6, so that the justified believer in Christ is now by faith, already in heaven, with his glorious Head: and shortly will be there in person. For so the promise runs: Where I am; there shall ye be also, John 14:1-3. To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne; even as I also overcame, and am sat down with my Father in his throne, Revelation 3:20. Reader! think what precious things, are contained in the bosom of this short, but comprehensive scripture, concerning our glorious Lord: when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on he right hand of the Majesty on high.


Verses 4-7

(4) Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. (5) For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? (6) And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. (7) And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.

We shall have occasion in the next Chapter, somewhat more particularly to treat of the nature of Angels, when we come to speak of the Son of God, passing by the nature of Angels, to take upon him the seed of Abraham. I therefore for the present pass it by, with only just observing, that the superiority of the Son of God in our Nature, God and Man, to that of Angels is evident, from every part of scripture, and with the most decided testimony. A few of the prominent points, in this Chapter, explained by other portions in the word of God, will set this matter in a clear light.

First. It is here said, that he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they: that is, than Angels. Now by inheritance, it should be observed, that as Son of God, one with the Father over all God blessed forever; his inheritance is his, by right, and not acquired, or given. But as heir of all things to which he is appointed as God-Man-Mediator, here in this sense, he hath obtained this dignity, and which is infinitely above all Angels. His Godhead confers to his human nature a dignity, infinitely superior to Angels. For such things can never he spoken of them; neither can any of them be called heir of all things.

Secondly. We not only hear God's command issuing from the throne, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, or Angels to worship him; but we have on scripture record, an account of their adoration of Christ, as God-Man-Mediator. Isaiah the Prophet hath given the relation of a vision, which he saw of the kind. And that there might be no misapprehension concerning whose glory it was. John the Apostle declared the glory the prophet saw, was the glory of Christ. Compare Isaiah 6:1 with John 12:41. And we have another account to the same purport, Revelation 5:11-13.

Thirdly. Christ is expressly declared to be, not only the Creator of all things, visible, and invisible; whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; but he is said to be the head of them, and they are all subject unto him. Compare Colossians 1:16 with 1 Peter 3:22. So that they are his ministering servants; and, as the several principles of fire and lightening, and winds; and tempests, are directed by Him, in their agency: so it is said, that he maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.

And all these things are said in a way, so immediately directed for the exaltation of Christ, in opposition to Angels; that it is demanded by way of question, When, or where, are Angels so distinguished? To which of the Angels, (said the Lord) at any time; Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee? To which the answer must be, yea, and is implied in the very question: to none of them! Of whom among them did ever God say, I will to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? To not a single creature of them. So that while God is the head of dominion to Angels; in Christ alone, is he united by nature. And therefore Christ is by so much better than the Angels, in that he hath, as God an inheritance of his own, underived; and as God-Man, an obtained inheritance, as being appointed heir of all things. See Heb 2 throughout.


Verse 8-9

(8) But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. (9) Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

What a glorious testimony is here given, to the Person of Christ, as Christ; that is, as God-Man-Mediator. True indeed, as God, one with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, his throne of Godhead is forever and ever. And Under this view, such things as ascribe eternity, glory, and all other divine attributes, are all his. But very evidently, from the quotation of this passage from the Prophet, When celebrating the glories of the Messiah, Psalms 45:6-7. As well as what follows, in what is said of his fellows; the words both in the Prophet, and in this quotation by the Apostle, are spoken of Christ, as God-Man-Mediator. And most blessed they are indeed. Christ is all this, and everything that is great, and glorious, as the Head, and Husband of his Church and people. But I need not, in this place, dwell upon the subject. All the Bible is full of Christ, and His royalty. I will rather beg, to direct the attention of the Reader to what is here said of Christ's fellows: for some very sweet, and precious views, according to my apprehension, arise here from.

The name of fellows, according to the original, carries with it somewhat very near, and intimate. Partners, Consorts, companions; Meaning a right, in all that Christ hath, in his headship; which is communicable both here in grace, and hereafter in glory. He, the Sun to fill them with light. He, the fountain from which the streams which flow, make glad the city of God. Hence, as One, and the same anointing, which was poured by the Holy Ghost on Christ, descended to all the members of his body; they are called by the same names, as their glorious Lord. He is king in Sion. And they are made kings and priests by him unto God and the Father, Revelation 1:6. He is said to have the Spirit given unto him, without measure, John 3:35. And to everyone of them is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ, Ephesians 4:7. And hence, the words in this verse, which are rendered above thy fellows; may be read also for thy fellows: and both are equally beautiful, and correct.

But under this view of the subject, what I would more immediately call upon the Reader to remark with me, on this fellowship, this partnership of Christ, and his Church; Christ and his members, his body is this; that the anointing, our glorious Head; this man of unction, as he is called, or this holy thing: Luke 1:35. Was, and is, with an express eye to his body the Church. Christ, as God is called Jehovah's fellow, Zechariah 13:6. And Christ, as man, in this place, as well as elsewhere, hath his fellows, in his members, Psalms 45:7; Zechariah 3:8. It forms one of the sweetest of all subjects, the contemplation of Christ, and his Church, in this oneness, and fellowship. The whole Church in every individual member, of his mystical body, were from all eternity chosen in Christ, and set up with Christ: And the whole body, in the purpose of Jehovah, were chosen in him, and for him, as fellows, and partners, and companions; to receive from him, and to enjoy with him, all that is communicable, in name, and honor, and happiness, and affection; during the time-state of grace upon earth: and glory in heaven.

Reader! beg for grace from the Lord the Spirit, to meditate you the blissful subject; for indeed, and in truth, it is most blissful. Very certain it is, that God our Father's choosing the Church in Christ; and adopting the Church as Sons by Christ, was for this express purpose, for the glorifying of his dear Son, in his fellows, and members. It is God's choosing us in Christ; giving us this relationship in Christ making us one with Christ; fellows with Christ; as Christ is fellow to God which forms the foundation of all the blessedness which follows. There cannot be the shadow of a doubt, but in the very will, and purpose of Jehovah, that his dear Son should take upon him human nature; the first, the great, the ultimate end, and design of all, connected with the vast scheme, was to manifest the glory of the Son of God. everything therefore in all the subsequent events, was so ordered and arranged, as should minister best to this one purpose. The glory of Christ's Person shall be advanced in everything. Will fellows, partners, companions, to whom Christ, by communicating of himself, contribute to this end? Jesus shall have a Church. Will the fall of this Church afford occasion to the glories of redemption? The whole events included in this high dispensation shall also follow, that Jesus shall get glory in our redemption. In short, whatever hath a tendency to magnify the personal glory of the Son of God, shall take place, for God's design all along, and from beginning to end, is to glorify the Lord Jesus. And most blessed as it is, to know, that from everlasting, God our Father hath loved the Church with an everlasting love; and in proof hath chosen, predestinated, adopted, and accepted the Church in the Beloved, as children by Jesus Christ to himself: yet all, and every part, of this vast dispensation, in this manifold wisdom of God, is, with an eye, to the Person of Jesus. You have not chosen me (saith Christ) but I have chosen you, John 15:16. God's choice of the Church is for Christ, and his glory. And even the recovery of our nature from the Adam-fall of sin: though it hath our salvation in view, by the wonderful means adopted; yet this, is but the secondary consideration in God's design; the first, and grand object, is, to exalt the Personal glory of his dear Son. So sweetly speaks the Lord, by the Prophet: Behold! my servant shall deal prudently; he shall be exalted, and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonished at thee, his visage was so marred more than any man; and his form more than the sons of men. So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him; for that which had not been told them, shall they see; and that which they had not heard, shall they consider. Isaiah 52:13-15.


Verses 10-14

(10) And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: (11) They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; (12) And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. (13) But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? (14) Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

I will not, (for I must not,) trespass any further in this Chapter. But oh! what a subject is here again opened to our meditation, on the eternal nature of Christ's Person; and of the everlasting duration of his kingdom! How endeared to Christ's Church, is the consideration of the unchangeable, unfading, and eternal nature of Christ's love to his people. Amidst all changes, there is none can be here. Jesus lives, and loves, and reigns forever. He is the Rock of Ages. Lord! (said one of old, under the fixed conviction by grace of these things,) thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations! Psalms 90:1. And here the redeemed soul finds a safe, and sure hiding place, from every storm, and evil. What though friends die, Jesus liveth. What, though the earth be removed, or we are removed from it; this sweet view of Jesus, and an assured oneness in Jesus, brings up all. The heavens may perish, and all things below change like a vesture. Here is the believer's confidence: But thou art the same! The same in thy Person. The same in thy love. And the same, in all the Covenant-securities forever. Hallelujah! The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth! Amen.


Verse 14

REFLECTIONS

Praises to the Lord Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord! And praises to his holy name, that he hath been pleased to make known the fellowship of the mystery, hid in God from the beginning of the world, which in times past was opened in divers manners to the fathers by the prophets; but now, in these last days, fully, and completely made known to the Church, in the Person of his dear Son! Lord Jesus! we hail thy glorious appearing, in all the revelations thou hast made! We adore thee for thy natural, and essential glories, as One with the Father. We adore thee in all thy mediatorial characters, as God-Man, heir of all things! And we would desire grace to praise thee, love thee, delight in thee, for all thy finished redemption-work, and grace, manifested to thy Church, and People; that when by thyself thou hadst purged our sins, thou didist take thy seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Oh! the rapture and the joy, that Jesus, by inheritance hath obtained a more excellent name than angels; and that his people, his fellows, by their union with him, and their right in him, are begotten to the same heritage, and will enter into the joy of their Lord. Oh! that God the Spirit, who in grace and love, hath brought the Church acquainted with these precious things, may daily, by his quickening, and renewing influences, anoint all the fellows of Christ, with the same oil of gladness, as their glorious Head. And while our God and Father saith unto his dear Son, Thy throne, 0 God, is forever and ever; all his adopted children may know their oneness and interest in Christ, and in that kingdom, which cannot fail!

 


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Bibliography Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/hebrews-1.html. 1828.

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