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Hebrews Chapter 1



Heb 1:1-2a …In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,  (NIV)

The epistle to Hebrews is a bit tricky to interpret because a large portion of it falls into the category of evangelism; i.e. proselytizing.

The author-- unknown by either name or gender --was apparently Hebrew because the pronoun "our" associates him with the people to whom the prophets spoke.

Moving through the letter, I believe at least three categories are addressed.

Chapters 1 thru 4:13 addressed nondescript Jews.

Chapters 4:14 and thru to 10:39, addressed a special group of Jews that I've labeled teetering Jews. Those were Jews who heard the Gospel, and interested in finding out more, but not quite convinced yet to follow Jesus whole-heartedly, and were in very real danger of turning completely away from the Gospel and permanently clinging to Judaism.

Chapter 11, and thru to the end of the epistle, addressed Jews who were past teetering: they made a solid commitment to become one of Christ's believing followers.

My divisions of the epistle are no doubt amateurish and rough hewn, but they do serve to help put the contents in some sort of useful perspective.

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Heb 1:2b ...but in these last days he has spoken to us, by His son. (NIV)

Islam's god Allah has no son. The Bible's God clearly does, and it is through His son that God has spoken His very latest words to mankind not through an Arab named Muhammad. And in point of fact, Bible salvation is not of the Arabs; no, it is of the Jews (John 4:22, John 14:6).

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Heb 1:2c …whom He has appointed heir of all things, (NKJ)

In the Bible, a man's son, usually the firstborn, is his principle heir. The rank of firstborn however isn't restricted to the one born first; but can be conferred upon a younger son if circumstances require it as in Jacob and Esau's case, and in Ephraim and Manasseh's, and in Rueben and Joseph's. So God's son, ranked as The Almighty's next of kinand His only son is in line to inherit everything that God owns; which is quite a bit. I don't think we even know the half of it. But does God have to die first before The Son can receive his inheritance? No. It's all at his disposal right now in the manner of a living will.

John 16:13-15 ...But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. (NIV)

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Heb 1:2d ...through whom also He made the worlds; (NKJ)

The Greek word for worlds is aion (ahee-ohn'); which means: ages or eras. In Genesis, there are two ages: the one prior to the Flood, and the one after it.

2Pet 3:6-7 ...By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (NIV)

By the power of God's word the universe came into existence.

Ps 33:6 ...By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, by the breath of His mouth, all their host. (1985 JPS Tanakh)

Christ pre-existed as The Memra', God's word. But it is extremely important to note that the New Testament doesn't teach God is a human being; but rather, that His word entered the world as a human being.

John 1:14 ...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (NKJ)

In that verse, distinction is made between the Word, the flesh, and the Father. The flesh and the Father are related, but they are not the same person. Even the Word, though said to be God, is somehow different. It is able to operate apart from God as an individual in its own right. When Adam hid from God, he wasn't actually hiding from the actual God, but from God's word.

¶.And they heard the voice of the word of the Lord God walking in the garden in the repose of the day; and Adam and his wife hid themselves from before the Lord God among the trees of the garden. (Targum Jonathan)

¶. And the Word of the Lord God called to Adam, and said to him, Behold, the world which I have created is manifest before Me; and how thinkest thou that the place in the midst whereof thou art, is not revealed before Me? Where is the commandment which I taught thee? (Jerusalem Targum)

¶. And he said, The voice of Thy Word heard I in the garden, and I was afraid, because I am naked; and the commandment which Thou didst teach me, I have transgressed; therefore I hid myself from shame. (Targum Jonathan)

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Heb 1:3a …The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, (NIV)

Most of us have a pretty vague notion of what God might be like in person. And we tend to think of Him as distant, aloof, regal, and all legal like a stuffed shirt judge in the county courthouse. But we know He is not like that at all because His Son is not like that.

John 14:7 …If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? (NIV)

A perfect echo of The Almighty had been right under Philip's nose all along for just about three years and he didn't even know it. (chuckle) But I really should cut Philip some slack because the rest of us really have no better perception of The Son than he did. The Son is a person of deep mystery who cannot truly be understood without Divine assistance.

Matt 11:27 …All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (NIV)

The Greek word in Heb 1:3 for *exact representation*  is charakter (khar-ak-tare'); which means: a graver (the tool or the person), or an engraving, or  stamped figure; viz: an exact copy or representation

Although Adam was made in the image of God, his imagery was not quite as precise as The Son's. The Hebrew word used to describe Adam's imagery in Genesis is tselem (tseh'-lem); which means: a phantom, i.e. (figuratively) illusion, resemblance; hence, a representative figure, especially an idol.

The shadow of a tree is something like Adam's likeness of God. On the ground, a tree's shadow is little more than an irregular puddle of contrasts, just a patchy smirch. But when we look up, oh! the tree comes alive with color and detail. We can see how tall it is, the features of the bark, and the shape and texture of the leaves and how they are arranged on the branches. And then we notice that the tree is an ecosystem in itself; a habitat for insects and other creatures invisible in the tree's shadow. The Son is like that. When we look at ourselves all we see is God's shadow; but in The Son, we see God Himself.

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Heb 1:3b ...sustaining all things by his powerful word. (NIV)

The Greek word for sustain is sunistao (soon-is-tah'-o) and/or sunistemi (soon-is'-tay-mee), which means: to set together, i.e. (by implication) to introduce (favorably), or (figuratively) to exhibit; intransitively, to stand near, or (figuratively) to constitute. The word is often translated commend; which would imply support. In Heb 1:3; the word is probably related to creation; e.g. Col 1:7 and 2Pet 3:5.

Col 1:17 ...He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (NIV)

2 Pet 3:5 ...For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: (KJV)

The very first recorded *words* of God spoken during the creation of the universe were; "Let there be light." (Gen 1:3).

The illumination of Gen 1:3 is not said to actually glow, and no glowing celestial bodies were created until the fourth day— so that during the interim, even while Light was in the universe, you still couldn't see anything. According to the Bible, the light of Gen 1:3 is not a supernatural kind of light, but a created kind of light— not light that was introduced into the void from outside, but was from within, and was a kind of light with the potential to forge the universe into a living, active, organized, energetic structure rather than just a heap of chaotic debris.

2Cor 4:6 …For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (KJV)

The light shined *out* of darkness, not into darkness as if it was introduced to dispel the dark and light things up. A safe assumption is that at least one of the meanings of the light of Gen 1:3 refers to the natural laws of physics that regulates how matter in the cosmos behaves.

Without the laws of physics, the universe would instantly fragment itself and nothing would hold together. There'd be neither natural nor artificial light, no energy, no gravity, no atomic attraction, no molecules, no liquids, no solids; and our bodies would dissolve into a zillion little tiny pieces of matter. The laws of physics were created to make matter behave the way it does and to hold the entire creation together in a cohesive, understandable, sensible unity— converting the Earth from a condition of chaos and waste (Gen 1:2) to one of order and usefulness.

This incredible power, the power of Divinity that sustains the way things work in the cosmos, is exercised not by Jesus as a human being, but by Jesus as God's word.

Why did God even bother to speak during creation? Why didn't The Creator just do His work silently without utterance or sound? To whom, or for whom, was He speaking when He said; "Let there be light." It's clear there is a creative, dynamic force in The Almighty's voice, a power and energy in His words, a tangible release of Divine life. His word is an extension of His nature, a movement of His will— His very breath; alive, powerful, and effective— not just letters, syllables, and sounds. There is vigor and activity in God's words extending far beyond the applications of thought and communication.

According to the Targums, which were at one time accepted as sacred Jewish beliefs, God's word is an entity; actually God himself; and is to be worshipped, served, obeyed, and prayed to as God. The Jewish apostle John, no doubt schooled in the Targums several years before he met Jesus, opened his gospel with these words:

John 1:1-3 …In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (NIV)

Modern Judaism accuses John of fabricating his Christian ideology from Greek philosophy. However, John 1:1-3 was a very Jewish belief back in John's day, and nothing said in that verse would have raised a single objection from any of his peers and contemporaries because that passage reflects 100% Targum teachings that were commonly dispensed in the synagogues of his day.

The Targums taught that God's word reigns supreme upon The Almighty's throne.

¶.Deut 4:7 …For what people so great, to whom the Lord is so high in the Name of the Word of the Lord? But the custom of (other) nations is to carry their gods upon their shoulders, that they may seem to be nigh them; but they cannot hear with their ears, (be they nigh or) be they afar off; but the Word of the Lord sits upon His throne high and lifted up, and hears our prayer what time we pray before Him and make our petitions. (Targum Jonathan)

According to the Targums, Jacob, an important progenitor of the people of Israel, worshipped God's word as his God.

¶.Gen 28:20-21 …And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, "If the Word of The Lord will be my support, and will keep me in the way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the Word of The Lord be my God." (Targum Onkelos)

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Heb 1:3c ...After he had provided purification for sins,

If you haven't done so already, please review The Passion; Why Did It Happen? and also the first stage of  The Stages Of Salvation.

Heb 1:3d ...he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (NIV)

No human being had ever done something like that before in the entire history of Man. That in itself speaks of the incredible high degree of personal character of the New Testament's Jesus; and also fulfills Isaiah's prediction that Messiah would be highly exalted (Isa 52:13). Today, right now, there is a human being, not standing, nor bowing, nor groveling, but *seated* at God's right hand. That is just truly amazing when you consider that God dwells in a light so intense that no man has ever seen it, nor can see it (1Tim 6:13-16) and that no man can see God's face and live (Ex 33:20).

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Heb 1:4 …So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. (NIV)

None of the angels are regarded as God's blood kin; and that is quite amazing because they are very high in rank, much higher than human beings. But God is their master, not their progenitor.

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Heb 1:5 …For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father"? Or again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son"? (NIV)

The first half is a reference to Psalm 2. The great rabbi Rashi admitted that: "Our rabbis expound it as relating to Messiah." So it is proper Jewish thinking to regard Messiah as God's kin. Therefore, any man claiming to be Messiah must also claim he is God's son or be regarded a fraud.

Mark 14:61b-62 …Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" "I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." (WHV)

By so saying, Jesus identified himself as the man in Daniel's prediction.

Dan 7:13-14 …As I looked on, in the night vision, one like a human being came with the clouds of heaven; he reached the Ancient of Days and was presented to Him. Dominion, glory, and kingship were given to him; all peoples and nations of every language must serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship, one that shall not be destroyed. (1985 JPS Tanakh)

The NIV is a little misleading in Heb 1:5. The phrase: "I have become your Father" actually reads in the Greek: "I have begotten you." The Greek verb there is: gennao (ghen-nah'-o); which means; to procreate.

So Messiah holds the rank of a son by procreation; which is faithful to the second half— a promise God made to David regarding his royal posterity.

2Sam 7:11-14 ...“The Lord declares to you that He, the Lord, will establish a house for you. When your days are done and you lie with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own issue, and I will establish his kingship. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish his royal throne forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to Me. (1985 JPS Tanakh)

The Son holds the rank of the Almighty's blood kin and that Greek verb will not allow any other interpretation to make a bit of sense regarding Messiah's relationship to God.

So, to answer the question: To which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father"— absolutely none of them. If the Son were an angel prior to his becoming a man, as the Jehovah's Witnesses claim, then that verse would have to be written like this: For to which of the [other] angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father"?

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Heb 1:6 ...And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him." (NIV)

If The Son were an angel, that verse would have to be written:

"Let all God's [other] angels worship him."

Since human beings are by nature inferior to angels, it was necessary to command them to worship Jesus or they wouldn't have done it on their own.

Rev 19:9-10 ...Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" And he added, "These are the true words of God." At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (NIV)

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Heb 1:7-9 ...In speaking of the angels he says, "He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire." But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy." (NIV)

That's a reference to Psalm 45. The literal Hebrew of the first half is Kis'aka 'elohim 'olam wa'ed which mean: Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever. However, the word for *God*,  'elohim, is somewhat ambiguous because it can refer to other dignitaries as well. It can mean judge, magistrate, and ruler. So the Hebrew could legitimately be translated: Your throne, O ruler, will last for ever and ever. That rendering seems the sensible choice seeing as how that Psalm doesn't actually address God, but addresses a human being of Davidic royalty.

However, despite the fact that Psalm 45 obviously speaks of a human being, there is yet no consensus opinion among Jewish Bible scholars how best to translate that passage. The 1917 JPS version renders it: "Your throne, given of God,." The 1985 JPS changed it to: "Your divine throne is everlasting." The Stone Tanach renders it: "Your throne is from God."

The author of Hebrews, on the other hand, is very clear and unambiguous with his Greek. In the New Testament, whenever the Greek word for god is preceded by the definite article "ho"— as in ho Theos; which means "the god" —theos then means the Almighty. The interlinear of Heb 1:8 is Ho thrónos sou ho Theós which means, literally, "the throne of yours, the god."

But why would the New Testament label a human being God? Well... because obviously Messiah holds the rank of a divine being— a rank so high that even his father David must serve and obey him.

Dan 7:13-14 …As I looked on, in the night vision, one like a human being came with the clouds of heaven; he reached the Ancient of Days and was presented to Him. Dominion, glory, and kingship were given to him; all peoples and nations of every language must serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship, one that shall not be destroyed. (1985 JPS Tanakh)

Ps 110:1 …The Lord said to my lord, "Sit at My right hand while I make your enemies your footstool." (1985 JPS Tanakh)

Isa 52:13 ...“Indeed, My servant shall prosper, be exalted and raised to great heights. (1985 JPS Tanakh)

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Heb 1:10-12 ...He also says, "In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end." (NIV)

That is a reference to Psalm 102, and the Hebrew word for *Lord* in that passage is YHWH.

It is one thing for the Son to create the worlds, but how can the author of Hebrews possibly imply that the Son is YHWH?

The Old Testament's YHWH, well known as Israel's god, is a most surprising personage.

Ex 20:1-3 …God spoke all these words, saying: I the Lord (YHWH) am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage: You shall have no other gods besides Me. (1985 JPS Tanakh)

Israel must worship their YHWH as God, and they must obey Him as God. But the divine being who spoke to them in the past all through the Old Testament as God, and for God, was not the actual God in person. The being who dealt in person with Israel, was a reflection of the actual God; a Divine being who mediated between God and Man— was authorized to use God's name for himself —and merited all the worship and prayer, and respect and reverence and fear due to The Name.

The actual person of God is remote, and removed; concealed within a forbidden city where sinful flesh can neither see Him, approach Him, nor relate to Him. The visible YHWH fills Man's need for someone who relates well to himself and to the hidden God so that both can maintain a viable diplomatic relationship with each other.

Ex 33:20 ...But,” He said, “you cannot see My face, for man may not see Me and live.” (1985 JPS Tanakh)

John 1:18 ...No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (NKJ)

John 5:37 ...You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, (NIV)

Point being, the Son is far and away superior to the angels because not only is he God's word— and thus the creator of the cosmos, and actively holds it all together —but he also holds the rank of God's blood kin, and occupies a divine throne; and is also YHWH, the god of the people of Israel. Is it any wonder the angels are mandated to worship the Son as their master?

It is vital to understanding the book of Hebrews to maintain a sharp and clear distinction between the human being Jesus, and the spirit being YHWH. Obviously no human being could possibly create the universe; especially one who descended many years after Adam; a human being who was himself created by God's word on the sixth day. The Son didn't do his part in creation as a human being, but as God's word; the mysterious being well known in sacred Jewish literature as The Memrà. If we don't make a clear-cut distinction between the Son as a human being and the Son as an eternal spirit being, he won't make a bit of sense.

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Heb 1:13 …To which of the angels did God ever say, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet"? (NIV)

The reference in that passage is made to Psalm 110:1 which says: The Lord said to my lord, “Sit at My right hand while I make your enemies your footstool." (1985 JPS Tanakh)

The second *lord* in the JPS is spelled with a lower case ell. Though it doesn't agree with the spelling at Matt 22:43-45, the lower case is appropriate because the Hebrew word 'adown (aw-done') means *master* and typically, though not always, applies to beings of lower rank than God. In Psalm 110, which some rabbis of the past interpreted as messianic, David regarded Messiah as his master. Normally; that would be improper, as Jesus pointed out.

Matt 22:45 ...If then David calls him 'master,' how can he be his son?" (WHV)

Isaac, in blessing Jacob, stipulated that his brothers and his mothers sons would be subordinate to him (Gen 27:29, Gen 27:37). Rebekah had no more boys after Jacob, so her *sons* would indicate future grandchildren via the twins. Thus, there exists a hierarchy of patriarchal rank: the previous ones are supposed to outrank those who come later.

Messiah and David are both patriarchal kings. So their status is a pretty level field in that respect. So what is there about Messiah that makes him superior to his grandfather when by all rights David is the one who's supposed to rank higher? Well... Messiah is seated at God's right hand— a position that David never attained (Acts 2:25-36). Thus; Messiah is now a true divine being (Phil 2:8-11). Therefore he ranks far and above the status of any human being, including his father David who never himself *sat* at God's right hand.

No angels sits at God's right hand either. If the Son were an angel, as some allege, then Heb 1:13 would have to be written like this: To which of the [other] angels did God ever say, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet"?

Sitting to a king's right is very significant. When Solomon granted an audience to his mom, he seated her on his right.

1Ki 2:19 ...So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him about Adonijah. The king rose to greet her and bowed down to her. He sat on his throne; and he had a throne placed for the queen mother, and she sat on his right. (1985 JPS Tanakh)

Even though Solomon was king over all of Israel, and his mom too was a subject, he still regarded her at the very least to be equal with himself and due at least as much respect that was due to himself from his subjects. No one would have slighted Solomon in the least if he didn't bow to his mom nor place her to his right. That was something he did because he wanted to.

No one should ever attempt to sit at God's right hand. That is very bad protocol. Since God is the one with the supremacy, His subjects should always stand to the left unless invited to do otherwise.

So the Son's position at God's right side is very significant. It means God regards the Son with a great deal of respect; at the very least an equal to Himself. The right hand is the one normally used to lean upon a cane or a staff. So that would imply God leans upon The Son, and relies upon him to oversee Divine affairs. God, long ago, made a promise to one of Messiah's ancestors along those very lines.

Hag 2:20-23 ...And the word of the Lord came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month: Speak to Zerubbabel the governor of Judah: I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. And I will overturn the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the might of the kingdoms of the nations. I will overturn chariots and their drivers. Horses and their riders shall fall, each by the sword of his fellow. On that day— declares the Lord of Hosts —I will take you, O My servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel— declares the Lord —and make you as a signet; for I have chosen you—declares the Lord of Hosts. (1985 JPS Tanakh)

Zerubbabel, in his day, enjoyed none of David's former kingdom glory; but God reassured the old boy that the royal line of David's house wasn't permanently humbled. It still had a great future even though things were looking pretty shabby for the moment.

A signet is a signature ring. Pressed in wax or clay, it leaves its owner's mark. A son entrusted with a signet carries the weight of his father's importance and his father's authority. So God promised Zerubbabel that the house of David would yet one day wield all the power and authority of Almighty God.

A signet can be used to bless, and it can be used to curse. Haman, in the book of Esther, attempted to use King Ahasuerus's signet to destroy life (Est 3:8-11). In stark contrast, Joseph used Pharaoh's signet to preserve life (Gen 41:41-44).

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Heb 1:14 …Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation? (NAS)

Point being, angels are merely servants— the Almighty's household staff. They don't share His throne; nor are any of them The Almighty's next of kin, nor are any of them God's heir apparent, nor have any of them been entrusted to rule the universe with Divine authority.

 

 

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