Author: Ron Graham
We now look at the opening verses of Hebrews (Hebrews 1:1-4). Noticing the Hebrew writer’s opening statements will further help to introduce and commend the letter to us. It will make us more aware of the main idea in the letter, which is the authority exercised by Jesus as our great High Priest.
¶“1Long ago, in many portions and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers in what the prophets said. 2However, in these last days he has spoken to us in his Son. God appointed him the heir of all things. Furthermore, God created the worlds by him. 3He is the radiance of the glory of God. He is the exact image of God’s deep nature. He also upholds all things by the word of his power. He made purification for sins. After that, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. 4 He is much superior to angels, for he has inherited a name more excellent than theirs.” (Hebrews 1:1-4).
In these theme verses there are nine statements made about Jesus. The epistle elsewhere makes further true statements about Jesus, but these nine, at the start, express the writer’s understanding of Jesus, and underpin the main ideas in his letter.
¶“1Long ago, in many portions and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers in what the prophets said. 2However, in these last days he has spoken to us in his Son.” (Hebrews 1:1-2a).
In times past God spoke through men, namely the prophets. But in the last days, God spoke through God, namely his Son Jesus.
¶“2...God appointed him the heir of all things. ” (Hebrews 1:2b).
The Son has the authority to speak, because the Father shares his whole estate with his Son, including the gospel by which we are saved.
¶“2...Furthermore, God created the worlds by him.” (Hebrews 1:2c).
Not only does he share all things with his Father, but helped his Father create the entire material cosmos, all the heavenly realms, and all that is in them (cf John 1:3).
¶“3...He is the radiance of God’s glory.” (Hebrews 1:3a).
Christ the Son is subject to his Father, but is not inferior to him. He dwells in the same glory as his Father (cf John 1:9,14 1Timothy 6:14-16).
¶“3...He is the exact image of God’s deep nature.” (Hebrews 1:3b).
Jesus said, "He who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). Jesus represents his father exactly, and all that we see in Jesus Christ is exactly what we would see in the Father. There is not the slightest shade of difference.
¶“3...He also upholds all things by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3c).
In a similar list of points (Colossians 1:13-20) Paul says, "in him all things hold together". If not for the exercise of Christ’s authority, evil forces would tear heaven and earth apart and all things would cease to exist.
¶“3...He made purification for sins.” (Hebrews 1:3d).
Nobody, nobody at all but Jesus, could offer to God an acceptable sacrifice for all sin.
¶“3...Then he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3e).
Jesus shares the throne of God, to reign with the very authority of God granted by God the Father.
¶“4 He is much superior to angels, for he has inherited a name more excellent than theirs.” (Hebrews 1:4).
We know that in the heavenly hierarchy, angels are above mankind, because man was made "a little lower than the angels" (Psalms 8:4-6). We also know that there is a hierarchy among the angels, for the Bible mentions Michael the archangel (Jude 1:9). There is no hint in the Bible of any authority higher than the angels yet lower than God’s. If Christ is elevated above the angels, he therefore has the next highest authority, which is that of God himself.