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Peoples New Testament, Hebrews 1

Christ Greater Than Angels and Prophets

SUMMARY OF HEBREWS 1: The Message Spoken by the Son. The Glory of the Son. His Superiority to the Angels.

1   God, who. Instead of the introductory greetings usual in an Epistle, the apostle plunges into the midst of his subject by a grand exordium.
At sundry times. Rather, "In divers portions", as in the Revised Version. The Old Testament was give in "portions", not all at once, and at wide intervals.
Spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets. Though prophets might be chosen as the instruments, the message was that of God. While God spoke through them, the prophets were only men.

2   Hath in these last days. "At the end of these days" (Revised Version). At the end of the Jewish dispensation.
Spoken unto us by [his] Son. "Last of all he sent his Son" (Mt 27:37). The importance of the message is shown by the messenger. No longer an inspired prophet, but, instead, the Son of God is the speaker.
Whom he hath appointed heir of all things. The Father delivered all things into the hands of the Son (Ac 2:36 Joh 17:10). "The heir ... is lord of all" (Ga 4:1).
By whom also he made the worlds. Through his agency or instrumentality. Christ, the Logos, is represented as God's medium in creation. See PNT "Joh 1:3".

3   Who being the brightness of [his] glory. A manifestation of the glory of God.
And the express image of his person. In Christ we have a tangible, visible representation of the substance of God. We see God in him: "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (Joh 14:9).
And upholding all things by the word of his power. The Son hath all power, and his power was always manifested by his word. He spoke and it was done, whether it was still the winds or to raise the dead. So in creation, the word was spoken and it was done.
When he had by himself had made purged our sins. Made an atonement for them.
Sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Of God. The right hand was always the place of honor. See PNT "Eph 1:20".

4   Being made so much better than the angels. Superior to the angels.
As he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. His superiority is shown in the greater name, which he received by inheritance; that of the Son. Our Savior has other names, but this name only is received by inheritance. This superiority is shown by the manner in which God addresses the Son. The apostle particularly shows Christ's superiority to the angels, because through angels the Jewish law was given. See Ac 7:53 Ga 3:19 Heb 2:3.

5   For to which of the angels said he at any time. To none of them did he ever use such language as follows. The style in which the Father addresses Christ shows his superiority to the angels.
Thou art my Son. See Ps 2:7. The second Psalm was regarded by the Jews as a prophecy of the Messiah.
This day have I begotten thee. What day is referred to in the prophecy? Ac 13:32,33 answers the question by quoting this very passage and declaring that it was fulfilled in the resurrection of Christ from the dead. He was born from the dead and God, who raised him, thus demonstrated that he was his Son.
And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? Quoted from 2Sa 7:14. They were spoken originally of David's son Solomon, chosen to be king after him, but he was in a certain sense a type of Christ. The expressions "Son of David" and "Seed of David" while applicable to Solomon, pre-eminently refers to Christ. See Mt 1:1 Mk 10:47 Lu 18:38 Joh 7:42 Ro 1:3 2Ti 2:8.

6   When he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world. Macknight thinks that Christ was brought into the world the first time when he was born at Bethlehem; that the time referred to here is when he comes again to judge the world.
And let all the angels of God worship him. Whatever the time referred to, his superiority to the angels is shown in Ps 97:7.

7   And of the angels he saith. The quotations made show how God speaks to and of the Son, but quite different are the words used of the angels.
Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. In the Revised Version we have "winds" instead of "spirits". The Greek word is "Pneumata", a word which uniformly in the New Testament means "spirit", and "spirits" in the plural, and I believe that "spirits" is the better rendering. The passage is quoted from Ps 104:4, and means that he maketh spirits his messengers, or angels, and flaming ones (the burning seraphs) his ministers. It is incongruous with the thought to introduce into the passage winds and lightnings, natural phenomena, when the theme is the status of angel intelligences.

8   But to the Son he saith. The quotation is from Ps 45:6.
Thy throne, O God, [is] for ever and ever. Then the Son has an eternal throne, and is divine.
A sceptre of righteousness [is] the sceptre of thy kingdom. He then has a kingdom, and rules it with a righteous scepter. The point is that he is a Divine King with an eternal throne.

9   Therefore God, [even] thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness. Because of the holiness of the Son, God the Father hath anointed him. The exaltation of the Son cometh from the Father. He is the Anointed, and
above thy fellows. Above all other anointed kings, priests, and prophets.

10  And, Thou, Lord in the beginning. From Ps 102:25-27. A part of the preceding part of the Psalm (Ps 102:13-16) speaks of the Messiah's Kingdom, and hence these verses may well apply to the Messiah, especially as they harmonize with what we are told elsewhere of his glory. See PNT "Joh 1:1".

11  They shall perish. All things shall grow old and pass away.

12  As a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed. The heavens shall be rolled away. They are rolled up to be put away like a worn out garment.
But thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. The Son is eternal, the same yesterday, today and forever. See Heb 13:8.

13  Sit on my right hand. Quoted from Ps 110:1.
Until I make thy enemies thy footstool. The custom is alluded to of putting the feet on the necks of conquered enemies. See Jos 10:24,25. This passage is applied to Christ in Ac 2:35 and in 1Co 15:25.

14  Are they not all ministering spirits? The real office of the angels is indicated. It is to give service in working out the plans of God for the salvation of the elect. The passage does not teach that each heir of salvation has a guardian angel, but that the angels do service in working out the Divine plans in behalf of the saved.
Sent forth to minister for them who shall inherit salvation? The work of angels can be learned in the Scriptures from the missions in which they are engaged. It is to aid in carrying out the plans of God for the government and salvation of our race. Under the rule of Christ they are his ministers to aid in the work of redeeming man. For examples of their work, see Ge 19:1-26 2Ki 19:35 Mt 18:10 Ac 5:19 10:1-8 12:23 Jude 1:6. Christ is Lord; they are servants.


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The People's New Testament commentary by B.W. Johnson (1891), Public Domain

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