Lesson 2 - Chapter 1:1-4

Lesson 2 - Chapter 1:1-4

Lesson for June 1, 2014

The Book of Hebrews

Chapter 1:1-4

Verse 1-2

“God, after He spoke to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through Whom also He made the world.”

Understanding dispensations is the key to understanding the book of Hebrews. God chose to speak in many different ways in the Old Testament. He spoke directly to individuals such as Moses from a burning bush, to Balaam from the mouth of a donkey, to Jacob in a dream, to Daniel in a vision, to Lot through angels, but mostly God spoke through His prophets. Some Old Testament prophets had the office of a prophet, some had the gift of prophecy, but they all carried God’s message. So, in many ways and in many portions of the Old Testament and in many ways in the Old Testament God spoke to His people. However, in the New Testament God spoke and continues to speak through His Son Jesus Christ. Remember that the Word of God is the mind of Christ.

The Greek word for portions is “polumeros,” which means “in many parts.” It is actually a reference to the Old Testament. The entire first chapter of Hebrews is a very strong proof text of the importance of the Old Testament. The Old Testament revealed Jesus Christ in many ways. The Old Testament revealed many wonderful things about Him. The principle of occupation with Christ existed just as much in the Old Testament as it does in the New Testament. They did not have the same doctrines that we have; the whole realm of the Church Age doctrine was unknown to them. However, they had enough doctrine, enough information so that the same principle under which we operate — occupation with Christ — was very much available to them. The Greek word for ways is “polutropes,” which means in different ways. Jesus Christ was revealed in many different ways in the Old Testament — theophanies, anthropomorphisms, types, tabernacles, the offerings, the holy days. All of the ways in which Christ was revealed are brought out by this Greek word. In every part of the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi Jesus Christ was revealed — in many parts of the Old Testament. These many ways are going to be in contrast to the New Testament where Jesus Christ is revealed in one way only.

The Greek word for last days is “palai,” which means at the end of these days and indicates we are talking about the close of Old Testament times. It means the testimony of the prophets under the Law of Moses had closed with the appearing of Jesus Christ in human form on earth. God began to speak through His Son. While on earth in human form, Jesus Christ spoke volumes, all of which was not recorded in Scripture. John said that if it were all recorded there are not enough books to contain it. This doctrinal information was transferred to the pages of the canon of Scriptures we call the Holy Bible. Once again, the Bible is the mind of Christ in written form. For the rest of human history God chose to reveal Himself through Christ. The New Testament is the revelation of Christ. In the Old Testament Jesus Christ was always revealed as God (Jehovah), and He sometimes took upon Himself the form of a man, the form of an angel, the form of a burning bush, the form of a cloud, or His Shekinah glory (as in the Holy of Holies), etc. The New Testament was all written after Christ was seated at the right hand of the Father and therefore Jesus Christ is revealed in a different way, in a different language. Now He is the God-Man and this passage will emphasize His humanity because through His humanity He won the strategic victory over Satan and the fallen angels.

The complete revelation of Jesus Christ continues right through the book of Revelation. In fact the book of Revelation is the panoramic history of Christ from the Cross to the end of time. The Bible is the only source of revelation with regard to God, and God the Son is the only revealed member of the Godhead. He is revealed in many different ways in the Old Testament, but he is revealed one way only in the New Testament (in the Person of Christ). The writer of Hebrews quoted the Old Testament as documentation for Christ winning the Angelic Conflict.

All revelation in the Word of God focuses on Jesus Christ. The Word of God is actually a progressive revelation of Jesus Christ. He is and always will be the focal point for the believer in Christ. As the planner, God the Father appointed the Son to be heir of all things. There was an occurrence in eternity past when God established the doctrine of divine decrees. This is brought out in Psalms 2:7. The Father appointed the Son as a part of the divine plan, as the focal point of the divine plan. Remember that we are in the plan of God but the focal point, the important thing in the plan of God is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was there when the appointment was made; He was there when the decrees were decreed; and He is also the subject and the basis of those decrees.

Doctrine of Heirship

  1. As the victor of the Angelic Conflict and as a part of the divine decrees Jesus Christ is the heir of all things — Hebrews 1:2.
  2. Sonship means heirship. Heirship is based on Sonship — John 1:12; Romans 8:16,17; Galatians 3:26.
  3. Heirship is based on the death of another. We inherit the eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ on the basis of His death — Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3,4.
  4. To inherit from God one must possess the life of God, therefore we possess eternal life — Titus 3:7; 1 John 5:11,12.
  5. Therefore salvation is the qualification for joint inheritance — Colossians 1:12.
  6. Heirship is related to the doctrine of divine decrees in the sense of sharing the destiny of Christ — Ephesians 1:11.
  7. Heirship is also related to the doctrine of election since the joint heirs share the election of Christ — Hebrews 9:15.
  8. The principle of our heritage is related to eternal security — 1 Peter 1:4,5.
  9. Our heritage is provided on the basis of grace — Galatians 3:29.
  10. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the down payment on our heritage — Ephesians 1:14.

This brings us now to the principle that Jesus Christ is not only the God of all eternity, along with the Father and the Spirit, but He is also the focal point of history. He is the object of everything that is important to us; He is first in our scale of values; but you can’t understand history apart from understanding Jesus Christ and His relationship to the Angelic Conflict.

The Greek word for made is “poieo”and it has a rather unusual meaning. It usually means to do or to make or to work, but here is means to design or to arrange. God the Father designed the various dispensations around the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice what comes first. In the doctrine of divine decrees Christ was appointed heir of all things, and then He designed the dispensations. The word for ages here refers to the divine outline of history. The ages were not designed until after the appointment of the heir because Jesus Christ is the focal point of every age. God the Father designed the ages to demonstrate that Jesus Christ will always be the focal point of everything for all eternity.

Jesus Christ is not only the Savior of mankind, but He is the solution to mankind’s problems historically as well as spiritually. So no matter which way you turn the fact is that apart from the Lord Jesus Christ life has only superficial meaning for anyone, believer or unbeliever. Every person is designed to have a relationship with God. Without a relationship with God there is vacuum in the soul. And, there is only one key to history and the key is Jesus Christ. Every dispensation is designed in its own unique way to give man freedom to believe in Jesus Christ, and to use his freedom to learn and apply Bible doctrine consistently.

Verse 3-4

“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.”

God not only appointed Christ heir of all things but when He appointed Him heir He gave Him all glory. Jesus Christ is the God-Man. In His deity He has glory through essence; in His humanity He was given glory through resurrection, ascension and session. And there is no pronoun before glory in this verse. It is not “his” glory but it is “the” glory. It is not just one glory that belongs to Him, all glory belongs to Him. He is the radiance of the glory. The Greek word for glory is “doca” and is often used for the essence of God — like Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” That is the sense in which the glory is involved here. God the Father appointed Jesus Christ the heir of all things, and the divine glory that existed in Jesus Christ and the glory that would be in His humanity blend together. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all have the same glory because they have the same essence. However, when God the Father, who in this case is the spokesman in the divine decrees, appointed the Son Jesus Christ the heir, He would become man and there is no glory in man. Man does not have glory. But Jesus Christ came into the world — virgin birth, without a sin nature, without the imputation of Adam’s sin — He lived without any personal sin even when the devil threw everything at Him, including the rulership of this world. Since the Resurrection, the humanity of Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father. Deity is omnipresent but the Man, Christ Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father and He has the only glory in the human race. As this chapter develops we will see that the glory that Jesus Christ has as a man is greater than the glory of any angel.

God the Father made it very clear that Jesus Christ was appointed the heir of all things. Jesus Christ said while He was on the earth that He understood this doctrine: John 1:18 — “He that sees me sees Him that sent me.” In other words, Jesus Christ is the radiance in another way. With the glory of God and the glory of man, He would be the manifestation of God and God’s plan. He is the manifestation of God through His human glory and His divine glory. The plan of God, the wisdom of God, and the grace of God are all seen in Jesus Christ.

The Greek word for upholds is “phero,” which means to bear, to carry or to sustain. Christ constantly sustains not just the earth but the entire universe. When Christ was in the cradle He was holding the universe together; when He was on the Cross He held the universe together; while He was in the tomb for three days He held the universe together. He is holding the universe together right now while He is seated at the right hand of God the Father. And that isn’t all; He is the creator of the universe. (James 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:10) But in this verse we see Him as the sustainer of the universe.

When God the Father made Jesus Christ the heir of all things He did a very interesting thing. He also assigned to Jesus Christ, not only the creation of the universe but the sustaining of it. There is the whole universe around us and one little spot in this universe is the earth. The devil rules that one little tiny spot and Jesus Christ could tell that “spot” to run into the sun, and that would destroy it, or run into Mars or into some other galaxy and destroy it. He could destroy in one second this little tiny planet called Earth. It is just a little bit of nothing as far as the whole universe is concerned. And this tiny planet is the devil’s kingdom, but he spends very little time here. The devil is probably in Heaven right now — very likely mentioning some believer to the Lord! But the one who controls the whole universe Jesus Christ can also control your soul, and that drives the devil crazy. Your life has meaning in the Angelic Conflict when you have applied doctrine in your soul. Without applied doctrine your life doesn’t mean much, spiritually.

Jesus Christ in His humanity is seated on the right hand of the Father as a demonstration of the doctrine of propitiation (complete satisfaction) or purging of sins. This doesn’t mean that individuals stop being sinners. It doesn’t even mean that everyone is saved. It means that when Jesus Christ was on the Cross He was actually judged for every sin that would ever be committed. The sin problem causes us to come into this world spiritually dead. The sin problem means we need salvation. The sin problem is contrary to the plan of God, the will of God and the grace of God. But every personal sin that you will ever commit in your lifetime — thought, word, or deed — was purified on the Cross.

God the Son became something He was not before. He became humanity. That is why we have the translation in verse 4, “having become as much better than the angels.” Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father and He has become something He was never before. As a member of the human race He was made lower than angels; now He is superior to angels (including Satan). You and I are not superior to angels; we are inferior both by creation and function. As a human being Jesus Christ is now superior to angels. Why? What makes Him better than angels is His resurrection body. He now has a human body that is superior to the bodies of angels. At this time Jesus Christ is the only member of the human race in a resurrection body. This will be true until the Rapture. No other member of the human race at this time is superior to angels, only the humanity of Christ. However, there will come a day when believers will be superior to angels - when we receive our resurrection bodies.

Christ has now inherited a better name than the angels according to verse 4. This means something a little different than what we normally think of in the English language. We have a tendency to associate “name” as being someone’s name, but not in the ancient world. The Bible must be interpreted in the time in which it was written. In the time in which this was written “name” did not mean name as we think of it, it meant reputation — Christ has a more superior reputation. Not only in His person is He now superior to angels but in His reputation. He has by inheritance received a greater reputation than all of those angels. Angels don’t inherit, as we will see in the following verses. Sonship inherits!