New Testament Biblical Studies Hebrews 1 Bible study

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Chapter 1

 

Christ is Greater than Angels.

 

The writer to the Hebrews shows how God intended that the Old Covenant, in which the Jews put so much confidence, should be a foreshadowing of the truth as it is in Jesus Christ. He reveals that the Lord Jesus  is greater than all who have gone before, and that the New Covenant far excels the old. Bible scholars are divided as to the author of the letter; yet it seems most likely to be the apostle Paul.

 

1. Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets.

 

The inspired writer does not set out to argue that God exists, but simply asserts the fact of His existence. The words remind us of Gen. 1:1 "In the beginning, God." To the writer of Hebrews, God is not remote and unknowable. Throughout history He has revealed Himself in many different ways (such as through visions and dreams) and at various times to our ancestors (in the days of the Old Testament) by the prophets.

 

2. 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.

 

In these last days a far greater revelation has been given; which is the final and all sufficient word from God. The word "last" (days) is superlative. It does not just mean "more recently", but implies that the end of time is near. The writer lives in constant expectation of the coming of Christ and the end of the present age. At the end of time, God has spoken in fulness through the instrument of His Son.

 

The writer identifies this Son as the appointed heir of all things, for all that pertains to God also belongs to Him. He is the agent of God in creation, the channel through whom the universe was created (the word for "worlds" is "aeons" - the reference being to both time and space).

 

3. 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.

 

The Son of God is an eternal being and is the outshining of God's glory (His nature). He is the engraving, or exact representation of the essence of God; for He is God and reveals God to us (John 1:1). He is the one who brought forth (created) all things by His powerful Word (John 1:3). Through the channel of His own self he purged our sins. He gave his own life, body and blood on the cross so that our sins might be "purged" (washed away, removed). Hid work being finished, He rose again from the dead and returned to heaven where He sat down at the right hand of God, the place of all authority and power (Mark 16:19 ;  Matt. 28:18).

 

4. Having become as much superior to angels as the name He has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

 

So Christ is better than the angels, by virtue of his eternal generation as the Son of God. For all angels are created, but the Son of God is uncreated, since "all things were made by Him and without Him nothing was made" (John 1:3).

 

5. For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you"? Or again, "I will be His Father, and He will be my Son"?

 

This fact is backed up by reference to Old Testament scriptures. Of the Christ it is written that God said "You are my Son, today (now) I have become your Father (begotten you)." These words were never written about angels. In another place, speaking to David of Christ, God said "I will be to Him a Father and He will be my Son."

 

6. And again, when He brings the firstborn into the world, He says, "Let all God's angels worship Him."

 

The Son receives worship from the angels just as God does. When God introduced His son, begotten prior to creation, into the world, God commanded all His angels to worship Him, which they promptly did above the skies of Bethlehem.

 

7. Of the angels He says, "He makes his angels winds, and His servants flames of fire."

 

By comparison, the angels are spirits (flames of fire) created and appointed by God to be his functionaries (servants). They exist only to perform the function God to which has appointed them.

 

8. But of the Son He says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of Your kingdom."

 

The Son on the other hand is called God by the Father Himself, who declares Him to have an eternal  throne and the Divine right to rule over God's kingdom, which He does with righteousness, another attribute belonging only to God.

 

9. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.

 

Christ, our God and King, has loved righteousness and hated iniquity (violation of God's law). In the Old Testament kings were anointed by prophets in God's name to rule over the people. But this King was anointed by God Himself, with the Holy Sprit, to be ruler over all the people - who are His companions or fellows. That is, the God-King spoken of here is a man among men as well as God of very God.

 

10,11,12. And, "In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like clothing; like a cloak you will roll them up, and like clothing they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never end."

 

Further scriptural evidence as to the identity of the Christ is quoted from Psa. 102:25 - 27. He is the one who laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning and who formed the heavens. These heavens and earth will not endure, for they will one day cease to exist, but Christ shall remain forever, the constant and unchanging God. The universe itself, even if it were billions of years old as some allege, is young compared with Christ its creator and will not last as long. The universe is passing away, scientists already see signs of decay and Christ intends to dispose of it altogether like a tattered old coat, making instead a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1).

 

13. But to which of the angels has He ever said, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet"?

 

It was never said to any angel, but only to Christ, "the Lord (God) said to my Lord (Christ) sit at my right hand (as my equal and regent) until I subdue all enemies under you." In other words the right to universal rule is His.

 

14. Are not all angels spirits in the divine service, sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

 

Angels are "the public servants of heaven", created by God to attend those who would inherit salvation by faith in Christ and become God's children.

 

At first glance one might wonder why Paul goes into so much detail to prove that Christ as the Son of God is greater than the angels. It is because the law (Old Covenant) was given through the ministry of the angels (Acts 7:53 ; Gal. 3:19). The fact that the New Covenant was inaugurated by One superlatively greater than angels shows that  the New Covenant is infinitely better and more enduring than the first; and so the Hebrew Christians are urged to adhere to it fully.

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