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Bible Commentaries

People's New Testament
Hebrews 1



Other Authors
SUMMARY.--The Message Spoken by the Son. The Glory of the Son. His Superiority to the Angels.

Verses 1-4

God, who. Instead of the introductory greetings usual in an Epistle, the apostle plunges into the midst of his subject by a grand exordium.

At sundry times. Rather, "In divers portions," as in the Revision. The Old Testament was give in "portions," not all at once, and at wide intervals.

Spoke. Though prophets might be chosen as the instruments, the message was that of God. While God spoke through them, the prophets were only men.

Hath in these last days. "At the end of these days" (Revision). At the end of the Jewish dispensation.

Spoken unto us by his Son. "Last of all he sent his Son." The importance of the message is shown by the messenger. No longer an inspired prophet, but, instead, the Son of God is the speaker.

Whom he hath appointed heir of all things. The Father delivered all things into the hands of the Son (Acts 2:36; John 17:10). "The heir is lord of all" (Galatians 4:1).

By whom also he made the worlds. Through his agency or instrumentality. Christ, the Logos, is represented as God's medium in creation. See note on John 1:1.

Who being the brightness of his glory. A manifestation of the glory of God.

The very image of his substance. In Christ we have a tangible, visible representation of the substance of God. We see God in him. "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9).

By the word of his power. The Son hath all power, and his power was always manifested by his word. He spoke and it was done, whether it was to still the winds or to raise the dead. So in creation, the word was spoken and it was done.

When he had by himself purged our sins. Made an atonement for them.

Sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Of God. The right hand was always the place of honor. See note on Ephesians 1:20.

Having become so much better. Superior to the angels. His superiority is shown in the greater name, which he received by inheritance; that of the Son. Our Savior has other names, but this name only is received by inheritance. This superiority is shown by the manner in which God addresses the Son. The apostle particularly shows Christ's superiority to the angels, because through angels the Jewish law was given. See Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:3.

Verses 5-12

For to which of the angels. To none of them did he ever use such language as follows. The style in which the Father addresses Christ shows his superiority to the angels.

Thou art my Son. See Psalm 2:7. The second Psalm was regarded by the Jews as a prophecy of the Messiah.

This day have I begotten thee. What day is referred to in the prophecy? Acts 13:32-33 answers the question by quoting this very passage and declaring that it was fulfilled in the resurrection of Christ from the dead. He was born from the dead and God, who raised him, thus demonstrated that he was his Son.

I will be to him a Father, etc. Quoted from 2 Samuel 7:14. They were spoken originally of David's son Solomon, chosen to be king after him, but he was in a certain sense a type of Christ. Expression "Son of David," "Seed of David," while applicable to Solomon, pre-eminently refers to Christ.

When he again bringeth the first born into the world. Macknight thinks that Christ was brought into the world the first time when he was born at Bethlehem; that the time referred to here is when he comes again to judge the world. Whatever the time referred to, Psalm 97:7 shows his superiority to the angels for it says, "Let all the angels of God worship him." But of the angels he saith. The quotations made show how God speaks to and of the Son, but quite different are the words used of the angels.

He maketh his angels spirits. In the Revision we have "winds" instead of "spirits." The Greek word is {Pneumata,} a word which uniformly in the New Testament means {spirit,} and {spirits} in the plural, and I believe that "spirits" is the better rendering. The passage is quoted from Psalm 104:4 and means that he maketh spirits his messengers, or angels, and flaming ones (the burning seraphs) his ministers. It is incongruous with the thought to introduce into the passage winds and lightnings, natural phenomena, when the theme is the status of angel intelligences.

But to the son. The quotation is from Psalm 45:6.

Thy throne, O God. Then the Son has an eternal throne, and is divine.

The sceptre, etc. He then has a kingdom, and rules it with a righteous scepter. The point is that he is a Divine King with an eternal throne.

Therefore God, even thy God, etc. Because of the holiness of the Son, God the Father hath anointed him. The exaltation of the Son cometh from the Father. He is {the} Anointed, and above all other anointed kings, priests, and prophets.

And thou Lord in the beginning. From Psalm 102:25-27. A part of the preceding part of the Psalm speaks of the Messiah's Kingdom, and hence these verses may well apply to the Messiah, especially as they harmonize with what we are told elsewhere of his glory. See notes on John 1:1.

They shall perish. All created things shall grow old and pass away.

As a vesture shalt thou fold them up. The heavens shall be rolled away. They are rolled up to be put away like a worn out garment.

But thou art the same. The Son is eternal, the same yesterday, to-day and forever.

Verse 13-14

Sit thou on my right hand. Quoted from Psalm 110:1.

Make thy enemies thy footstool. The custom is alluded to of putting the feet on the necks of conquered enemies. See Joshua 10:24-25. This passage is applied to Christ in Acts 2:35, and in 1 Corinthians 15:25.

Are they not all ministering spirits? The real office of the angels is indicated. It is to give service in working out the plans of God for the salvation of the elect. The passage does not teach that each heir of salvation has a guardian angel, but that the angels do service in working out the Divine plans in behalf of the saved.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.

Bibliography Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:4". "People's New Testament". 1891.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 28th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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