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Answer: In the first chapter of Hebrews the author (very likely the Apostle Paul) establishes the qualifications of Christ as God’s principal agent, (1) as Revealer of His Word (verse 1), and (2) as secondary agent in the creation of the universe. This principle of Authority and Power as it relates to Christ runs throughout Hebrews chapter one. We’ll quote each verse and follow it with a comment.
The term, ‘prophets’ , refers to the Old Testament regime.
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son . . .
‘In these last days’ denotes a change of dispensation. God’s teaching agency would no longer be the (servant) prophets but the Son, Christ, whose ministry was directed to the ‘us’ class – the New Testament church of the Gospel Age and all subsequent believers.
. . . whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.
The expression in verse 2, ‘by whom also he [God] made the worlds’ -- that is, all the things which Christ as the hand of God brought to pass – implies that agency was conferred on the Son by the Father, in the same way in which Jesus could say that He was ‘sent’ by God (John 17: 18).
The fact that at God’s instigation Christ performs functions or offices which primarily belong to the Almighty, count as though the Almighty acted alone. Power is invariably exercised through secondary agency – as the human hand is the agent of the brain; and Authority is often exercised through secondary agency – as through a spokesman. In Luke 7: 1-10, when the centurion requested from the Master a healing for his loved servant, he made it known that he did not expect Jesus personally to attend, noting that – like himself as a master of men – Jesus could despatch agents to accomplish the task (vs. 7-9). For this depth of understanding Jesus expressed His admiration.
Christ is the inheritor of all God’s promises and therefore, as the second clause of this verse says, He was commissioned as the active plenipotentiary agent in the creation (‘by whom also he made the worlds’). All this was in place aeons before the ‘foundation of the world’ was laid, which could have been thousands of millions of years ago – a span of time so immense that from the human perspective it is a practical eternity. Hence Jesus could say of Himself, ‘Before Abraham was, I am’ (John 8: 58).
3 Who being the brightness of his [God’s] glory, and the express image of his [God’s] person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Christ reflected the glory and character of God; indeed, He was as close to being God as it was possible to be, without actually being God. His universal Authority and Power was inherent in His office as God’s vicegerent (‘upholding all things by the word of his power’). When Christ by his death had laid down His humanity as the Ransom sacrifice for mankind, He was raised from the death state and resumed His place as God’s favourite, though now on the Divine plane of immortality (independent, non-perishable Life).
Verses 4-9 contrast the heritage and highness of Christ with that of the angels:
4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
7 And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.
8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
Verses 10-12 constitute an amplification of the theme, reinforcing the thought of verse 2 (‘he made the worlds’):
10 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:
11 They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;
12 And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
These verses are quoted from the Septuagint version of Psalm 102: 25-27. The preceding verses of that Psalm (1-24) constitute a lament, the writer of the Psalm standing in for Jesus (as a type). Contemplating His inevitable crucifixion, Christ expresses His fear of failure and extinction (‘take me not away in the midst of my days’). His Father assures Him of victory and perpetuity: ‘thy years are throughout all generations’ (end of verse 24), then launches into the sentiments quoted in Hebrews, closing with a further assurance in verse 28: ‘The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee.’
Compare this explanation with Hebrews 5: 7: ‘[Christ] . . . in the days of his flesh . . . offered up prayers and supplications with strong cryings and tears unto him [God] that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared’ (brackets and emphasis ours). That Christ would petition God to be saved from death is in itself a strong indication that He was not and is not God.
Speaking hypothetically, Christ would be God if God did not exist. He has been, is, and forever will be the express image of the Father. Hence, all the angels and all on earth should properly worship Him.
Copyright November 2010 ukbiblestudents.co.uk
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