Notes on Hebrews 1:1-3


God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the 1fathers by the prophets, Hath in these 2last days spoken unto us by [his] 3Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he 4made the worlds; Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express 5image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his 6power, when he had by himself 7purged our sins, 8sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high

    • (1) Lk 1:55,72; Acts 3:13,22,25, 7:38; Heb 8:9
    • (2) Gal 4:4
    • (3) Ps 2:7; Acts 13:33; Heb 5:5
    • (4) John 1:3; Col 1:16
    • (5) Col 1:15, 2:9
    • (6) Matt 28:18, Heb 11:3
    • (7) 1 Jn 1:7; Heb 9:11-14; Heb 10:10-14
    • (8) Ps 100:1; Eph 1:21; Matt 28:18; Acts 2:30; Heb 1:8, 8:1, 12:2

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets

    • God…spake The writer assumes the divine inspiration and authority of the Scriptures (2 Pet 1:21).
    • A prophet “announces or pours forth the declarations of God” (Pink). The English word comes from the Greek (προφήτης), which signifies one who speaks for another” (Smith). See Exodus 7:1.

Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son

    • “These last days” (Heb 9:26) begins with the ministry of Christ (Gal 4:4).
    • Contrasts “time past” (Old Covenant) with “these last days” (New Covenant)
    • Christ (the incarnate Word) is the perfect and final Word from God. (2 Cor 1:20)
    • “unto us” refers to the Jews of that age (see Heb 3:1, cf 2 Pet 3:15)
    • It is not only that Christ delivered God’s message, but that He Himself IS the message.

whom he hath appointed heir of all things

    • Relation between ‘heir’ and ‘lord’ – see Gal 4:1
    • The heir is the successor to all the father has
    • Israel despised Christ’s inheritance – See Mk 12:7
    • The earth is the Lord’s inheritance (Ps 2:8)
    • Believers are joint heirs with Christ – Rom 8:16-17

by whom also he made the worlds

    • All things were made by the Son (John 1:3, Col 1:16)
    • Concerning “world” – αἰών in Classical Greek generally means period, age, generation, epoch, etc.
    • αἰών here (and in 11:3) means all created universe of time and space

Who being the brightness of [his] glory

    • Christ radiates God’s glory (or rather is the radiation of God)
    • Underlying “brightness” is the Greek word ἀπαύγασμα which means reflected brightness, shinning forth, splendor, radiance, and an out-flowing of light
    • The ‘brightness’ of the sun, for example, is of the same nature as the sun (Jn 10:30)
    • For wisdom as emanation (ἀπαύγασμα) of God’s glory and brightness of His light, see Wisdom 7:25-26
    • For wisdom as creator of all things, see Pr 8:22-30

and the express image of his person

    • The whole final and perfect revelation and manifestation of God is in Christ (1 Tim 3:16)
    • χᾰρακτήρ (“express image”) usually refers to an impress (mark or seal) or engraving (LSJ)
    • Christ is the impress of God’s substance – Col 1:15, 2:9
    • ὑπόστασις (hypostasis, “his person”) literally means a ‘setting under’ (ie a support). Figuratively it can mean essence. In KJV it is translated: confidence, person, substance
    • For more, study hypostatic union in a theology text

and upholding all things by the word of his power

  • Christ has ALL power in the universe – Matt 28:18
  • Christ not only rules the Spiritual realm, but He “upholds all things” (Col 1:17).
  • Christ, then, is the maker, sustainer, and heir of all things – the entire universe
  • World created by Word of God (Heb 11:3) and sustained by Word of God (here and in Col 1:17)

when he had by himself purged our sins

  • Christ ‘having made’ (aorist participle) a purification (καθαρισμός = cleansing or purification). The tense indicates a finished work (Heb 9:26).
  • Hebrews is the epistle of Christ’s priesthood
  • “The Wisdom which created the worlds and maintains them …may well beget in us a sense of wondering awe” but this act of grace far surpasses that (FF Bruce)
  • Confirms that the filth of sin needs to be purged away – Heb 9:22.
  • Animal sacrifices could not purge sin from the soul – (Compare Lv 16:30 with Heb 9:13-14; Heb 10:1-4, 10-18

sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high

  • The exhalation of Christ
  • Sat Down – Finished Work – John 19:30; Heb 10:12, 12:2
  • The right hand is exalted – Ex 15:6
  • The one who so humbled Himself has now been highly exalted above every principality and power.
  • This is as Christ prophesied (Lk 22:69) and Stephen testified (Acts 7:56)
  • Contrary to dispensationalism, Christ not only will be exalted in the age to come, but is exalted NOW – “raised him from the dead, and set [him] at his own right hand in the heavenly [places], Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come…” (Eph 1:21)
  • Christ is seated next to Majesty (also Heb 8:1): Many references in Scripture (esp Psalms) refer to God as Majesty
  • Christ is seated “on high” (ὑψηλός = high, lofty, exalted, eminent), i.e. the most elevated exaltation possible
  • Seated on the throne – Dan 7:9, Acts 2:30; Heb 1:8, 12:2
  • For more on Christ’s exaltation: Ps 110, Eph 4:10, Ph 2:9
  • Rules with a Sceptor of Righteousness.

Summary

This brief introduction shows Christ to be the manifestation of our Triune God in human flesh (the brightness of His glory and image of His person), the Creator and Sustainer of all things, and it shows forth His three-fold offices of: prophet (spoken to us), priest (purged our sins), and king (sitting on the throne of God).

To the only wise God our Saviour, [be] glory and majesty, dominion and power,

both now and ever. Amen.
Jude 25

Sermons

S. Lewis Johnson

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3 thoughts on “Notes on Hebrews 1:1-3

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