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Hebrews 1

 

 

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Verse 1

Hebrews 1:1

The Bible as a Revelation of God.

Two things are affirmed by this writer. First, that God spake to the Jewish nation by the prophets of the Old Testament, evidently in an especial and supernatural manner; and next, that He spake to them by a gradual revelation of the teaching, communicated to them in diversified ways.

I. Let it be admitted that the Bible is a supernatural revelation from God: then it is as much an incarnation of the Divine Spirit as the Emmanuel was of the Divine Son—as the physical creation was of the Divine Father. If a theory of the inspiration of the Bible could be formulated, it would be an exception to every manifestation of God in the physical and in the moral world. It is one thing to understand the proof of a fact, it is another to recognise the fact that is proven. I can recognise the proofs that establish the facts that I am a living being, that the corn ripens, that the tides ebb and flow, that the needle points to the north, that an earthquake occurred yesterday; but I cannot understand what life, and tidal influence, and magnetism and electricity are. So I may understand the proofs that the Bible is a revelation from God, and that the Bible writers were inspired, without being able to understand the methods of revelation and inspiration.

II. In looking at the Bible, two classes of phenomena have to be accounted for. (1) First, the supernatural element has to be recognised and accounted for. The proofs of the Divine element in the Bible are almost inexhaustible. Almost every week, some unsuspected but harmonious line of proof is opened out to us, proclaiming the Divine. (2) The second great characteristic of the Bible are the marks and proofs of its human authorship. I cannot resolve the humanity of the sacred writers into passive instruments of the Divine. I cannot think all the pious passion of David, all the personal avowals of Paul unreal: I cannot reduce them to the mock personages of a sacred drama, and the inspiring spirit with the simulator of human voices and feelings. Only by fully and fearlessly recognising the human element in the authorship of Scripture can we even understand it.

H. Allon, The Indwelling Christ, p. 299.


References: Hebrews 1:1.—Preacher's Lantern, vol. i., p. 144; F. W. Robertson, Sermons, 2nd series, p. 136; Church of England Pulpit, vol. xvii., p. 183; J. Bainton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvii., p. 219. Hebrews 1:1, Hebrews 1:2.—Expositor, 1st series, vol. i., p. 60; vol. x., p. 275; A. M. Brown, Christian World Pulpit, vol. v., p. 44; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 58; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., pp. 38, 39; H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, The Life of Duty, vol. i., p. 31; Homiletic Magazine, vol. ix., p. 284; D. Rhys Jenkins, Eternal Life, p. 146. Hebrews 1:1-3.—R. W. Dale, The Jewish Temple and the Christian Church, p. 11.


Verses 1-4

Hebrews 1:1-4

The Son above the Angels.

I. The Son is the end of all history. The Father hath appointed the Lord Jesus Christ, His Son, the heir of all things. There is nothing excepted that is not given unto Him. He has obtained the Church as the first and central part of His inheritance. As the material sun is placed in the firmament to be a source of light and heat and joy, with the rest of the creation of God, so God appoints the Church to be the firstfruits of His creatures—the body of Christ, wherewith He influences and blesses, whereby He guides and controls all things.

II. In Him God made "all ages" or "all worlds." It is natural that He who is the Alpha should also be the Omega. Scripture teaches us creation is the work of the triune God. God has made all things by Christ, according to Christ, and for Christ.

III. Before all history He is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His person. Wherever He looks He sees Christ, the light. Without Christ, there is darkness. The Father is light, yet not to us without the mediation of the light, which is Christ. Without Christ He is darkness by excess of brightness.

IV. Throughout the course of history, in providence, Christ heareth all things with the word of His power. If it were not for Jesus and for the atonement, if it were not for the Lamb foreordained from the foundation of the world, the history of this world would never have been continued after the fall of man. Christ is Lord of all. The whole universe centres in Him. A star appears at the time of Messiah's advent. The sun loses his splendour when Jesus Christ dies upon the cross. It is the Lord Jesus who shall make all things new. And all developments are borne up and moved by the word of His power.

A. Saphir, Expository Lectures on the Hebrews, vol, i., p. 44.


The Mediator of the New Covenant, the Incarnate Son, above the Angels.

Consider the marvellous unity of the two Covenants.

I. "God hath spoken." This is the first point. A living God and a loving God must needs speak. The god of the philosophers is a silent God, for he hath neither life nor affection; but our God, who created the heavens and the earth, who is and who loves, must speak. Even in the creation, which is an act of the condescension of God, He utters His thoughts; and when He created man as the consummation of the world, it was for this purpose, that man should hear Him and love Him, and should rejoice in His light and in His life. When sin enters into the world, silence ensues.

II. Man having, by his own sin, fallen away from God, and silence reigning now, it is only the infinite compassion and love of God, that induces him to speak. If there were no redemption, there would be no revelation. If there were no blood of the Lamb, there would not be a single word uttered unto man by the most High.

III. And that God hath spoken is a very awful thing, full of power and life. We have got accustomed to it, to believe that we have the thoughts of God embodied in His world, and that He who is Almighty and blessed in Himself, and against whom we have sinned, hath in His infinite love uttered unto us the thoughts of His compassion and His mercy; but God Himself is astonished at it, and commendeth His love.

IV. As the Sonship is the beginning of the Gospel, so it is also the end and purpose of God's message. God, speaking to us by His Son, shows unto us that we also are to become the sons of God. In the Son we know and have the Father: in the Son we also are the children of God.

A. Saphir, Expository Lectures on the Hebrews, vol. i., p. 20.


References: Hebrews 1:1-4.—Homilist, 2nd series, vol. ii., p. 460. Hebrews 1:2, Hebrews 1:3.—G. Calthrop, Words to my Friends, p. 1. Hebrews 1:3.—G. E. L. Cotton, Sermons to English Congregations in India, p. 103; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 60. Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 1:4.—Expositor, 1st series, vol. i., p. 119.


Verses 3-6

Hebrews 1:3-6

Christ above the Angels.

I. It is very wonderful how, in God's ways, fixed necessity and liberty go hand in hand. From all eternity Jesus is appointed the Son of David; but the development of history goes through liberty, the exercise of faith, of hope, of patience, of joy, of suffering. Everything that is human is in sweetest harmony with that unfailing and unchangeable purpose of God's love which must surely come to pass.

II. Humanity in the person of Messiah is exalted far above any creature. The consummation of all history, and the perfect manifestation of God's glory to the rejoicing adoration of angels and men, will be in the Lord Jesus, who is not ashamed to call us brethren, who is one with us by a link which can never be severed. Holiness and goodness are worthy of adoration only in their essence and source. He, whom holy angels are called by God to worship, must be essential holiness, goodness, love—must be none other but the infinite and eternal, the ever blessed and co-equal Son of the Most High.

III. How near is Jesus unto us, although He is high above us. This is the very reason why God has exalted Him; this is the reason why He is so high above everything, above all powers and dominions; that He who has all power and love may be visible and accessible; that every one may see Him and draw near to Him; that out of the lowest depths we may behold Him, and that from the utmost corner of the land we may cry unto Him and be saved. He is high above us, that looking unto Him, the Author and Finisher of faith, unto Him who through the Cross entered unto glory, seeing Him constantly above us, the Lamb in the midst of the throne, we may run with patience the race set before us.

A. Saphir, Expository Lectures on the Hebrews, vol. i., p. 70.


References: Hebrews 1:4.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p 60. Hebrews 1:4-14.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 42; R. W. Dale, The Jewish Temple and the Christian Church, p. 23. Hebrews 1:5.—Expositor, 1st series, vol. i., pp. 185, 297; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. v., p. 31; J. Vaughan, Sermons, 14th series, p. 149.


Verse 5

Hebrews 1:5; Hebrews 2:4.

Why does the Apostle speak about the angels? He has shown from Psalm ii., from Psalm xcvii., from 2 Sam. vii., from Psalm cx., most clearly that the man Jesus is none other than God, and that therefore in His humanity also He is highly exalted above all angels. But what is the point of the comparison? The argument is simply this: the old dispensation, the law, was given under the mediation and administration of angels. If Jesus was above angels, then His dispensation, the new covenant, His priesthood, are high above that of the law. Scripture often speaks of the angels. Note some of the doctrines which the Bible contains concerning them.

I. Human beings know nothing about angels, except what God pleases to tell them. Hence all that human poets have imagined about them is of no importance or value, unless it agrees with the record of the Divine Scriptures. And Scripture tells us of the angels only, as it were, incidentally.

II. Notice the multitude of the angels. "We have come to an innumerable company of angels." This innumerable multitude is a polity, a state. There are gradations in it, groups, orders, legions of angels. There are the cherubim and the seraphim, thrones and dominions. This kingdom is intimately connected with the kingdom of grace. When a sinner is converted the angels rejoice, and when Jesus comes again the angels will come with Him.

III. Angels are connected with all physical phenomena. Through the angels God carries on the government of the world. Glorious as the angels are, they are in subjection to Jesus as man; for in His human nature God has enthroned Him above all things. Their relation to Jesus fixes also their relation to us. "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation?"

A. Saphir, Expository Lectures on the Hebrews, vol. i., p. 94.



Verse 6

Hebrews 1:6

Christ worshipped by Angels.

I. The first thing which the text teaches is that Christ is a proper object of Divine worship.

II. The text suggests another point—that the incarnation of our ever-blessed Lord affords a special call upon all in earth and heaven to ascribe unto Him the honour which is due unto His name.

J. N. Norton, Every Sunday, P.-25.

References: Hebrews 1:6.—Expositor, 1st series, vol. i., p. 349; Homilist, vol. i., p. 38.


Verse 7

Hebrews 1:7

Angelic Life and its Lessons.

I. There is no proof of the existence of other beings than ourselves, but there is also no proof of the contrary. Apart from revelation, we can think about the subject as we please. But it does seem incredible that we alone should represent in the universe the image of God; and if in one solitary star another race of beings dwell, if we concede the existence of a single spirit other than ourselves, we have allowed the principle; the angelic world of which the Bible speaks is possible to faith. But we have fallen upon faithless times; and worse than the mediaeval, who saw the glint of the angels' wings in the dazzling of the noonday cloud; worse even than the Greek, who peopled his woods with deity, we see only in the cloud the storehouse of rain to ripen our corn, and in the woods a cover for our pheasants. Those who see more have small cheerfulness in the sight; neither the nymphs nor the angels haunt the hills with us. The world is too much with us, and God too little. We cannot see the world which moves around us through the dust of the death in which we live. He who dwells in the cabin of the visible cannot see the infinite world of the invisible through the clay-built walls. Our life with nature has lost its beauty, its joy, its religion.

Note:—

I. The relation of God to angelic life. The first thing we understand of the angels is, that in distant eternities God created them. Here we have the principle of the social life of God. He would not have a life which began and ended in Himself. His life consisted in giving Himself away, and finding Himself in all things. I don't say God could not, but He would not be alone. And this is the deep principle of all being. That which is, is that which gives itself away. That which lives, is that which lives in others. God would be dead were He to live for Himself alone, and we are dead when we live only to receive, when, folding the cloak of self around us, we cease to find our being in sacrifice of self.

II. Note, next, angelic life in relation to God. It is described as a life of exalted praise. Here we have a revelation of the life of heaven. Holiness, deepening day by day; sacred love and awe, increasing as the revelation of holiness advances, and the expression of these in ceaseless worship, ceaseless praise. Then will praise be perfect, for in us love will be perfect; our voices, our unconscious aspirations, our whole life shall go forth in song to God, as the river goes forth to seek the ocean. The perfect life will be perfect joy.

S. A. Brooke, Sermons, p. 304.


References: Hebrews 1:7.—Expositor, 1st series, vol. viii., p. 461. Hebrews 1:7-9.—Ibid., vol. i., p. 447. Hebrews 1:8, Hebrews 1:9.—Ibid., vol. ii., p. 295; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 179. Hebrews 1:10-12.—Ibid., vol. i., p. 181. Hebrews 1:11.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. vii., p. 337. Hebrews 1:12.—F. Armitage, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xii., p. 321; G. T. Coster, Ibid., vol. xvi., p. 203. Hebrews 1:13, Hebrews 1:14.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 182.


Verse 14

Hebrews 1:14

Ministry of Angels.

I. The angels are ministering, i.e. worshipping, spirits; beings engaged in the perpetual liturgy of the glorious temple above. That temple has never wanted its worshippers. The solemn anthem of praise has never been silent there. It has not been broken and marred by sin. But in the next place, as there is a worship of angels above, so there is a ministry of angels in the world. Cardinal Newman has gone so far as to suppose that the whole visible creation is carried on in its minutest details by their agency. He would have us believe that there is not a flower, nor a ray of light, but conceals some spirit form, which gives it its lustre and its beauty. Every breath of air, and ray of light and heat, every beautiful prospect is, as it were, the waving of the robes of those whose faces see God in heaven.

We need not, however, accept such a hypothesis as this. It is too fanciful, and it is not really supported by Scripture; for the representation of the Psalmist, "Who maketh His angels winds," etc., does not really amount to more than this, that God gives His angels the swiftness, and the strength, and the invisibility of the winds, that He clothes His ministers with the all-pervading subtlety of fire. He thus employs them as His agents in carrying out His purposes in the world.

II. And what are these purposes? What has Holy Scripture taught us concerning the offices of angels? (1) First of all, they are represented as deeply interested in the work of human salvation. The mystery of redeeming love fixes their entranced and ardent gaze. They stoop down, as it were, from the golden battlements of heaven, seeking, if it may be, to fathom that love, "the length and breadth, the depth and height of the love that passeth knowledge." The angels, though of spiritual and not of fleshly nature, can sympathise with our low estate, can rejoice in God's good will towards us. And hence, no doubt, it is that He declares those who confess Him before men, He will confess before the angels of God. (2) And we see a further proof of this, their relation to us, in their attendance upon our Lord in His earthly life. They came to Him as comforters and helpers of His human nature. When He died angels guarded His tomb, and were witnesses of His resurrection. And we know that when He comes again He will come in the glory of His Father and of the holy angels, and that the trumpet of the archangel shall awake the dead. (3) As it was with His human life so it is with ours. The example of the angels teaches us (a) the blessedness of a willing obedience, (b) a lesson of sympathy for those beneath us. Do not let us plead any difference of rank, or knowledge or power, in excuse of our neglect of one of the least of our brethen made like us in the image of God.

Bishop Perowne, Sermons, p. 224.


Angelic Ministry.

The oblivion of great truths is sometimes the reaction of grievous errors. The man-worship of the Church of Rome has nearly obliterated from our calendar the name most conspicuous in New Testament female biography; and in the same way, in our protest against the angel-intercessors of angelic idols of popery, we are in danger of forgetting the existence or denying the ministry of angels altogether. Now creature-worship is bad, whether that creature be a man or an angel. But although, like all loyal subjects, angels desire to concentrate on their eternal King the worship of the universe, and although they refuse to usurp the place of the one Mediator, in their nature, their functions and their history, there is much to elevate our thoughts, and to reward our affectionate contemplation.

II. It is pleasant to think that there are beings created and intelligent, who have kept their first state amidst the decay of earthly beauty and of earthly goodness; it is a joy to remember that there is a created beauty which has never dimmed; a created love which has never known a chill; a created loyalty which has never received a shock, or been seen to falter. Amidst our slowness and stupidity it is pleasant to remember that God has servants who understand all His will, and who can execute each fiat; angels who fly swift as wind, and who, for ready apprehension and ever-burning ardour, are flames of fire. With our felt weakness and unworthiness, it is affecting to know that these angels, so swift, so strong, so holy, minister to the heirs of salvation. Nor is it without solemnity to remember that much, if not all, of our conduct is open to the observation of angels. And although it might well be restraint of the incentive sufficient to remember, "Thou God seest me," we may find an occasional restorative to our sinking spirits, and a useful proof to our faltering resolution, in remembering that we are seen of angels also.

J.Hamilton, Works, vol. vi., p. 311.


References: Hebrews 1:14.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 277; R. L. Browne, Sussex Sermons, p. 255; Homilist,. vol. iv., p. 165; Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxiv., p. 255.

The Ministry of Angels.

I. As to the existence of angels, the fact confronts us that there are such beings, above man in gradation, superior to man in mental and moral endowments, waiting upon God in the upper sanctuary, and obedient to His will. The belief in such existences can claim the highest antiquity. A few cavilling Sadducees raised a doubt about it; but as to others, the Jews believed it, Gentiles believed it, and in the sense of some tutelar genius over particular localities and provinces, the notion had a place in the creed of the whole heathen world.

II. What is our revealed knowledge concerning the angels? (1) Of the dignities and capacities of angels, Scripture gives us everywhere the most exalted ideas. (2) Their wisdom also is great. (3) They have made mighty advances in the sanctity and purity of the heavenly state. They are the elect, the everlasting chosen ones of God, confirmed in their state of blessedness in heaven, to go no more out, but ever loving and ever delighting to exalt His name.

III. What is the source of the interest which the angels take in us? (1) One reason is to be found in their general sympathy with Christ's work, and with the success of His mission in the hearts of men, as that which was to bring an access of numbers to their own blessed society, and magnify the power and grace of Him who was at once their Lord and ours. (2) Again, this pleasure of angels in ministering to us may arise in some degree from their superior knowledge of what man's place in the universe of God is, and how he ranks in the varied orders of created existence. (3) Know that Christ makes all things one. All diverging lines, whether of earthly condition, or diverse economies, or separated ages of the world, of this mansion or that, in the rest of paradise, and this task or that in the countless hierarchies of heaven, are all brought up into, and meet in this centre. The most exalted seraph draws the breath of his immortality from Christ, just as much as the newly departed infant whom he folds in his wing to lay in the bosom of Jesus, as privileged heir of salvation, gathered early from the toils of time.

D. Moore, Penny Pulpit, No. 3273.

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/hebrews-1.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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