Hebrews 1 (NLT)
The Supremacy of God’s Son
1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. 3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. 4 This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.
V2 The periodic, partial, and differential prophecies of the OT have now been overshadowed by God’s pre-eminent and final revelation in the person of His Son. The prophets were only channels through whom the divine word was communicated. The Lord Jesus Christ is Himself the final revelation of God to men. As John said, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18). The Lord Jesus said concerning Himself, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Christ speaks not only for God but as God.
To emphasize the infinite superiority of God’s Son to the prophets, the writer first presents Him as heir of all things. This means that the universe belongs to Him by divine appointment and He will soon reign over it. It was through Him that God made the worlds. Jesus Christ was the active agent in creation. He brought into being the stellar heavens, the atmospheric heavens, the earth, the human race, and the divine plan of the ages. Every created thing, both spiritual and physical, was made by Him.
V3 He is the outshining of God’s glory, that is, all the perfections that are found in God the Father are found in Him also. He is the effulgence or radiance of His glory. All the moral and spiritual glories of God are seen in Him. Further, the Lord Jesus is the exact image of God’s essential being. This cannot, of course, refer to physical likeness because God is, in essence, a Spirit. It means that in every conceivable way Christ exactly represents the Father. No closer resemblance could be possible. The Son, being God, reveals to man by His words and ways exactly what God is like.
And He upholds the universe by the word of His power. Originally He spoke to bring the worlds into being (Heb. 11:3). Still He speaks and His powerful word sustains life, holds matter together, and maintains the universe in proper order. It is by Him that all things hold together (Col. 1:17). Here is a simple explanation of a profound scientific problem. Scientists grapple to discover what holds molecules together. We learn here that Jesus Christ is the great Sustainer, and He does it by His powerful word.
But the next glory of our Savior is the most amazing of all—when He had by Himself purged our sins. The Creator and the Sustainer became the Sin-bearer. In order to create the universe, He only had to speak. In order to maintain and guide the universe, He only has to speak because no moral problem is involved. But in order to put away our sin once for all, He had to die on the cross of Calvary. It is staggering to think that the sovereign Lord would stoop to become the sacrificial Lamb. “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all,” as Isaac Watts’ hymn says.
Finally we have His exaltation as the enthroned Lord: He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. He sat down—the posture of rest. This is not the rest following toil, but the rest of satisfaction in a finished work. This posture indicates that the work of redemption has been completed.
The right hand of the Majesty on high is the position of honor and privilege (Heb. 1:13). Because of His glorious triumph, God has highly exalted Him. The right hand is also the position of power (Matt. 26:64) and delight (Ps.16:11). The nail-scarred hand of the Savior holds the scepter of universal dominion (1 Pet. 3:22).
V4 The next step in the argument of the Epistle demonstrates that Christ is superior to the angels. This was necessary because the Jewish people had a very high regard for the ministry of angels. After all, the law had been given through angels (Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19), and angelic beings had appeared frequently throughout the history of God’s ancient people. Perhaps it was argued that in leaving Judaism for Christ, a person would be cutting himself off from this important feature of his national and religious heritage. The truth is that, in gaining Christ, he gained One who is superior to angels in a twofold sense—first as Son of God (1:4–14) and then as Son of Man (2:5–18).
Christ has become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. This speaks first of an acquired superiority, then of an inherent superiority.
The acquired superiority results from His resurrection, ascension, and exaltation as Lord and Christ. In incarnation He was made for a little while lower than the angels for the suffering of death (2:9). But God has exalted Him and enthroned Him in highest glory. His inherent superiority has to do with His eternal relationship as Son of God. The more excellent name is the name of Son.
V3 says, “He cleansed us from our sin”. Whether we feel cleansed is not the point, Christ’s redemptive work in us is not based on feelings, but faith. We accept this cleansing by faith, whether we feel like we deserve it or not.