The Son Is God’s Final Word

Hebrews 1.1-2 [widescreen]

Hebrews 1:1–4 (NRSV)  Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

The letter to the Hebrews is unlike the many other letters in the NT, as there is no greeting that identifies the author or the audience.  There is no greeting, no blessing, and no prayer of thanksgiving.  Instead, the author begins with a sentence introduction (vv. 1-4) that introduces the main theme of the letter.  Most scholars believe that Hebrews was not originally written as a letter, but as a sermon.

The book of Hebrews is anonymous (as are the Gospels and many of the OT books).  Since the earliest centuries, the authorship of the book of Hebrews has been debated.  The book was included in the Bible as it circulated with Paul’s letters, so some early church fathers argued that Paul was the author (Origen and Clement of Alexandria).  However, almost all modern scholars agree that Paul was not the author.  One key piece of evidence is that the author describes himself as one of the original witnesses who followed Christ (2:3).  Secondly, the language and style are quite different from Paul’s letters.  Many suggestions have been made as to the author.  Martin Luther suggested Apollos.  However, all such suggestions are merely speculation.

The message seems to have been written to Rome, sending greetings from the Roman Christians who had traveled abroad.  (Heb. 13:24)  Those he addressed in the message seem to have had a Jewish background, so his audience appears to be Jewish Christians as opposed to Gentile Christians.

The occasion for the letter seems to be persecution that the Hebrews are enduring that has caused some to fall away, and others to doubt.  (Heb. 10:32-39)  The author’s purpose in writing is to encourage the struggling Hebrew community to maintain their commitment in this persecution.   If these are Roman Christians to whom the authori is writing, the occasion may have been the persecution of Christians under Nero in the mid-60’s.

In the Greek, verses 1-4 are one eloquent sentence that introduces the main theme of the message of Hebrews:  The Superiority of the Son.  The author begins with a statement concerning the revelation of God.  In the OT, God spoke through the prophets (Nevi’im).  In the English Bible, we consider the prophets to be only the books of Isaiah through Malachi.  However, in the Hebrew Bible, Moses was considered a prophet (the Torah, the first five books of the OT), and included in the former prophets are Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings.  The Latter Prophets are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve (the minor prophets, Hosea to Malachi).

The author says that in the OT, God revealed himself to particular people at particular times in history, and the Bible is the record of God’s self-revelation.  God revealed himself first to Adam and Eve in the Garden, to Noah, then to Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and all the prophets.  God revealed himself through dreams, visions, mighty acts, stories, commands, exhortations, angelic appearances, and even divine appearances.  The prophets were all those to whom God gave his revelation.  (2 Peter 1:19-21)

But now, God has revealed himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.  He is the final and ultimate revelation of the Father.  (Heb. 2:3, 4)  We have no need of any other or further revelation of God.  And in fact, all further revelations are false, and should be seen as so.  In Christ, “God’s own glory” is revealed.  (v. 3)  The glory of the Son is the same as the glory of the Father and is an expression of God’s own glory, because the Son is God.  (John 1:14)  The gives a clear picture of the very character of God (John 1:18).

And when Christ had finished his work of redemption, “he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.”  God the Son’s exaltation is demonstrated in that he sits at the right hand of God.  And as God’s royal heir, the Son will receive everything as an inheritance (v. 2).  The Son’s exalted position is superior to every created being in the universe, even the angels, just as the name of the Son is greater than that of created beings (v. 4).  (Phil. 2:9)

Lord, I praise your name.  “Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  (Phil. 2:9, 10)  Even so Lord Jesus, come!  Maranatha!  Amen.

 

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