For an introduction to this series, click here.
November 4, 2007
The writer of Hebrews doesn't mess with greetings or any sort of introduction (Very unlike Paul or Luke). He jumps right into the message, and it is a powerful message on the deity and the uniqueness of Christ:
"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making 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." (1:1-4)
The writer tells us that God has given us a much better revelation than the testimony of angels or prophecies given to men of old, and that revelation is Jesus Christ.
"For to which of the angels did God ever say,
'You are my Son, today I have begotten you?'
'I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son?'
And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,
'Let all God's angels worship him.'
Of the angels he says,
'He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.”
But of the Son he says,
'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.'
'You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.'" (1:5-12, ESV)
This is an incredible series of quotations. The writer, who was intensely familiar with the Old Testament, takes several different passages about God and ascribes them to Jesus Christ. Most of these verses would have been very familiar to the recipients of this book. Probably they never made the connection between Jesus and these descriptors they knew about God.
The writer here is very insistent that it was Jesus who created the world. Even though it is taught in the Old Testament, most Jews then (and certainly all who follow Judaism now) did not recognize the Trinity. They emphasized passages such as "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord."
When you combine this with the fact that the epistle is addressed to a mixed audience of both Christian and non-Christian Jews, this becomes an important introduction. Many of these Jews, perhaps even those who claimed to believe in Christ, still hung on to the idea of God being one exalted Father. One of the main purposes of Hebrews, especially this passage, is to prove to them that Jesus was more than a special prophet. He was the eternal God who lived among men.