World English Bible translation
1:1 God, having in the past spoken to the fathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 1:2 has at the end of these days spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds. 1:3 His Son is the radiance of his glory, the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself made purification for our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; 1:4 having become so much better than the angels, as he has inherited a more excellent name than they have.
The Epistle to the Hebrews is a unique document in New Testament Scripture. This is a letter written to a distinct group of people from someone that is known to them and yet we are not given either of these important facts at the beginning of the letter. Instead, the author jumps directly into the heart of the problem that this community faces.
God speaks. In the past, He spoke to "the fathers" through prophets. This is the first indication that the community that receives this letter is predominantly Jewish. The clear meaning of this passage is that God has spoken to "our fathers." Now God declares Himself to all people through His creation, but God revealed Himself through the prophets only to His chosen people, Israel. At many times and in various ways God reached out to the descendants of Abraham and chose for Himself a unique people. He revealed Himself and His ways to them.
But now this same God speaks through His Son. God continues to speak to His chosen people only now He sends another messenger. God sent His Son though whom He made the world and who has been appointed the heir of all things. The author tells them that the Son is not only the radiance of God's glory, He is "the very image of His substance." The Son is uniquely qualified to reveal the things of the Father because the Son is just as the Father.
This is a powerful passage about the deity and the person of Jesus Christ. The beginning of this letter is its heart. God has sent His Son. There is a new and better revelation that is now available to the Chosen People of God. Jesus made purification for our sins and for this God raised Him up and glorified Him. He has been given a name and an inheritance that is higher than every name, including that of angels.
The beginning of the letter is the heart of the letter. The Son is superior to the prophets. The Son is better than the angels. The new covenant in the blood of Christ is superior to the covenant that was sealed at Sinai by the blood of bulls and goats. If we believe this basic premise, then everything else that the author has to say follows naturally from this axiom.
Have you experienced the "radiance" of God's glory? Do you know the power of the Son that holds all things together?
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