posted on Jan, 6 2017 @ 05:07 PM
The epistle to the Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians, perhaps to a specific Jewish church.
The writer’s purpose in the first chapter is to demonstrate that their God is making available, through Christ, a much greater and more decisive
revelation than anything they have received from him previously.
In fact, over the course of the letter, he will want to argue that Christ has brought “completeness” into their lives..
God has always been speaking to them, but in the older times he spoke “in many and various ways” though the agency of the prophets, each time
presenting some portion of what he was offering.
Whereas “in these last days” he speaks uniquely through a Son.
Through the agency of the same Son, God made the totality of the universe (“the ages”).
That Son is now, naturally, the “heir of all things”, rightfully holding authority over them (vv1-2).
The whole glory of God shines out through the Son. (“Reflection”, found in some translations, is not quite the right word.)
He is also the CHARAKTER of the nature of God, the image which presents to us an understanding of what God is like.
That is how his revelation of God can be more complete than any previous (or later) revelation.
That Son has always carried (or “carried along”) the created world by the expression of his will.
But now something new has happened.
He has brought about a “purging of sins”, a freedom from the condition of Sin.
After which, he took his place on the seat of authority, next to the Most High.
So we’ve been shown a continuous history of the activity of one Person, from participation in the creation of the world to sitting in heaven.
And this activity includes what Jesus did on the cross (the “purging of sins”), which identifies the Son with Jesus himself (v3).
The purging of sin is the greatest event that was possible after the creation itself.
In doing this, the Son has made himself a “name”, a reason for reputation in the world, greater than any angels could achieve.
Therefore he has been made superior to the angels.
That is to say, he has been made superior to them even in the person of Jesus.
As the Son, and as the agent of creation, he was always superior to them, as the writer now demonstrates by reference to passages in the Old
He quotes “Thou art my Son; today I have begotten thee” (v5).
This comes from Psalm 2, which celebrates the triumph of the Lord over the mass of his enemies.
Of course the New Testament presents the whole complex of sin-and-death, controlling the human race since the beginning of Genesis, as the ultimate
He also quotes “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”, which was originally spoken in the context of establishing the house of
David and their kingdom.
He quotes “Let all God’s angels worship him” (v6), which seems to come from a Septuagint version of Deuteronomy ch32 v43.
That verse includes the observation that he takes vengeance on his adversaries (for our purposes, again, that complex of sin-and-death), and that he
“makes expiation for the land of his people”.
He quotes the promise that the Son has a throne which “is for ever and ever” (v8), in contrast with the precarious existence of the angels.
He also applies to the Son the words which Psalm 102 speaks of the Lord, beginning “Thou didst found the earth from the beginning” (vv10-12).
On that basis, the Psalmist is appealing to the Lord for salvation, and the restoration of Zion.
For this letter, the passage confirms the Son’s rule over the created world.
Finally, he quotes “Sit at my right hand, until I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet” (v13).
This, again, contrasts the Son’s dignity and authority with the servile activity of the lesser agents, the angels, as he waits for the consequences
of the purgation of sin to be worked through.
It is necessary to bring out the contrast between the Son and the angels, in order to make the point that the Son brings a greater revelation.
That is, greater than the Law of Moses, which was a revelation brought by angels (according to the common understanding of the time).
Stephen refers to this belief when he makes the charge “You received the Law as delivered by angels, and did not keep it” (Acts ch8 v53).
Paul also alludes to it, when he is explaining (Galatians ch3 vv19-20) why the Law cannot stand against the covenant of promise. The implication is
that what was received indirectly, through angels, is inferior to what comes more directly from God himself.
The same point is meant here.
The revelation brought by the Son is the fact that sins have been purged, which overrides the lesser revelation of the condemnatory Law.
For this reason, we must focus our attention on the revelation brought by the Son, for fear of “drifting away from it”.
The implied image is of boats being carried along by the waters, while the occupants try to catch hold of a safe anchoring-point (ch2 v1).
Their danger comes from the Law, from the Law’s function of identifying transgression in the sight of God.
Thus the relentless current of the Law carries them towards judgement.
“How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?”
That question reveals the writer’s motive in composing this letter.
He’s worried that his readers might lose their grip on their anchoring-post, the salvation which Christ has brought.
This new revelation of salvation is most certain (vv3-4).
It was spoken by the Lord himself, meaning Jesus.
Those who first heard him were witnesses to what he said.
It was also confirmed by the “signs and wonders”, and by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, all coming direct from God.
Therefore the first readers of this letter, who may be tempted to cling to the older and more familiar revelations, have every reason to place their
trust in this much greater revelation which the Son provides.