In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

Heb 1:1-4

There are seven affirmations about God’s Son that describe his attributes and achievements as God’s supreme and final agent of redemption (in bold above). This climactic summary of the biblical storyline found in these verses is God’s greatest expression in words. The goal, aim, and purposes of God are ultimately and completely revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord and the writer of Hebrews, under divine inspiration, captures the quintessential message that God wishes for us to hear. The seven are (excerpted from Peter O’Brien, The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Hebrews, no longer in print from the publishers due to concerns over plagiarism [see the whole store here].):

(a) The Son as messianic heir: whom he [God] appointed heir of all things (line B, v. 2b). This clause alludes to Psalm 2:8, an oracle addressed to the Lord’s anointed who is acclaimed as God’s Son. He is assured that in response to his request the sovereign Lord will give him the nations as his inheritance. The oracle in the psalm echoes Genesis 17:5, where the inauguration of Abraham as heir marks a significant step in redemptive history. Abram received a new name (see Heb. 1:4) and the solemn assurance, ‘I have appointed (tetheika) you the father of many nations’. In Hebrews the Son is invested as the heir not simply of all the nations, as in Genesis 17:5 and Psalm 2:8, but of the whole universe (all things), especially ‘the world to come’ (2:5).

(b) The second affirmation tells what God has done through the agency of the Son: through whom also he made the universe (v. 2c)…The ‘whole created universe of time and space’ is meant, and the statement that the Son was the Father’s agent in the creation of the universe is consistent with what is said by other New Testament writers (1:10; see John 1:3; Col. 1:16).

(c) The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being (v. 3a). Accordingly, as ‘the radiance of God’s glory’, the Son is the manifestation of God’s glorious presence. Since he is the radiance of God’s glory, rather than simply the reflection, there is some sense in which the Son is the twin source of the light of God’s glory….Further, the Son is the exact representation of … [God’s] being.The Greek term rendered exact representation…was used of a mark or impression placed on an object, especially on coins, and came to signify a ‘representation’ or ‘reproduction’.The Son of God bears ‘the very stamp of … [God’s] nature’ (RSV).The Son is the exact representation, the embodiment of God, as he really is. His being is made manifest in Christ, so that to see the Son is to see what the Father is like….

(d) The Son sustains all things by his powerful word (v. 3b). The preexistent Son, who is so intimately related to the Father, also ‘upholds all things’. Not only is Jesus Christ the agent of creation (v. 2c); he also sustains the universe he has made. This Lord is not like the god of the deists, who, having created the world, then proceeded to let it run on its own. He is personally and continually involved in sustaining it….Christ’s sustaining activity is effected by his powerful word. The antecedent of the pronoun ‘his’ is Christ rather than God, thus indicating that the divine word uttered is the Son’s own. This marks him off as different from divine agents such as the logos or wisdom. The creative utterance (rhēma) of the Father that brought the universe into being (Heb. 11:3) is matched by the sustaining utterance (rhēma) of the Son.

(e) He made purification for sins (v. 3c). The Son who was the agent of God’s creative activity is the one who has also effected his saving work. If Christ’s bearing all things to their appointed goal is viewed as a process, the author’s attention now shifts to his purification for sins, which is envisaged as a whole; elsewhere Hebrews informs us that this occurred in his once-for-all death on the cross (7:27; 10:12; 12:2).

(f) He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven (v. 3d). Having completed the work of atonement, the Son is exalted and enthroned at the right hand of God on high. The two declarations, that the Son has made purification for his people’s sins and been enthroned in the place of honour, lie at the centre of the author’s Christology, and are fully elaborated in the rest of Hebrews….The announcement of the Son’s exaltation to God’s right hand is a clear allusion to Psalm 110:1 (Ps. 109:1 [LXX]). It serves as a key to the structural development of the book, and is cited at 1:13 and alluded to at 8:1; 10:12; 12:2 as well as here. Jesus’ ascension was an essential and regular element in the early apostolic preaching, finding echoes throughout the New Testament. This goes back to the messianic interpretation of Psalm 110:1: ‘The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool” ’. Jesus claimed these words for himself when he was brought before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem (Matt. 26:64; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:41–44). After his resurrection and ascension the apostolic announcement was that his enthronement had taken place. Paul expressed the same truth in different language when he asserted that Christ has ‘ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things’ (Eph. 4:10), and that ‘God has highly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name’ (Phil. 2:9)….Christ’s exaltation was God’s mighty act of raising him ‘on high to a position of unparalleled honour and universal authority’. The term Majesty is a circumlocution for God and underscores the impression of the Son’s surpassing glory. His enthronement at ‘the right hand of the divine Majesty’ shows that the rank and rule of God the Father is not compromised in any way, while the addition of ‘on high’ focusses attention on the heavenly sphere of Christ’s exaltation.

That Christ sat down as priest (after his work of purification for sins) shows his work was finished. The significance of a seated high priest is amplified in subsequent chapters, especially in 10:11–14, where Christ is contrasted with the Aaronic priests, who remained standing because their sacrificial service was never finished. This clause (v. 3d), within the flow of the author’s prologue, conveys the sense of fulfilment of the divine purposes. The Son’s earthly mission was accomplished. And where he sat down, that is, at God’s right hand, is as significant as the fact that he sat down. To be at someone’s right hand is to be in the position of special honour and privilege (1 Kings 2:19). In the Old Testament the Lord’s right hand is the position of favour (Ps. 80:18; Jer. 22:24), victory (Ps. 20:6; 44:3; Isa. 41:10), and power (Exod. 15:6; Ps. 89:13; Isa. 48:13). For Christ, then, to be seated at God’s right hand meant sharing the Father’s throne (Rev. 3:21)….Throughout Hebrews there is an emphasis on Jesus’ death and exaltation rather than his resurrection, ‘because these two aspects of Christ’s priestly work correspond to the two principal actions performed on the day of atonement—the shedding of the sacrificial blood and its presentation inside the sanctuary’. There is, however, one explicit reference in Hebrews to the resurrection (Heb. 13:20), while it is implied in ‘Christ’s conquest of the prince of death (2:14), in his having a life that is beyond the reach of death (7:16, 25), and in the fact of his exaltation (1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2) and eternal heavenly priesthood (5:6; 7:17; 8:1)’.

(g) He became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. Jesus’ exaltation to God’s right hand marks him out as superior to the angels, a superiority that is underscored by reference to the title he bears. His name, which is more excellent than the angels’, is usually taken as that of ‘Son’ because of the acclamation ‘my son’ of Psalm 2:7, cited in v. 5.

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