The most important subject in the Epistle to the Hebrews is the Lord Jesus Christ. There is nowhere else to begin but with Messiah, for nothing else can show the betterness of the better covenant than Jesus Himself.
Revelation in the Word
God, having spoken long-ago in-many-portions and in-many-ways to the fathers by the prophets . . .Hebrews 1:1 (DLNT)
“Long-ago” traces the prophets all the way through to the time of Jesus’ ministry, so surely included John the Baptist. God’s revelation came bit by bit through the prophets and the law. Beginning with Abraham, the Lord revealed God slowly to the writers of the Hebrew scriptures, first as Elohim, then as YHWH.
Revelation came in the form of dreams, visions, events, and direct communication, God even speaking face-to-face to Abraham, Hagar, and Moses.
. . . spoke to us at the last of these days by a Son.Hebrews 1:2 (DLNT)
But in the last days, which is to say in this last era and from now on, God has spoken to us by Jesus. In contrast to prophets portrayed in the Hebrew scriptures, as great as they were, God’s fullest revelation of God is through the Son, Who is Himself God. This statement dovetails beautifully with the Gospel of John’s own declaration of the Person of Christ.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This One was in the beginning with God. All things came-into-being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being which has come-into-being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of humankind.John 1:1-4 (DLNT)
Embedded in these two texts is the interplay of the meaning of revelation and of words. God spoke, and God’s speech was the revelation of God. Those words had been reverently recorded and preserved for thousands of years. But now, of incalculably more value was the very Word of God, revelation in three dimensions, the incarnation of God in Christ.
The Word as Revelation
To describe the glory and grandeur of Who Christ truly is, the writer gave a sevenfold description of the Son, each point corroborated in the Gospels
1. A Son, Whom [God] appointed inheritor of all things,
2. through Whom also [God] made the worlds,
3. Who— being the radiance of [God’s] glory
4. and exact-representation of [God’s] essence,
5. and upholding all things by the word of His power—
6. having made purification of sins,
7. sat-down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so-much better than the angels by-as-much-as He has inherited a more-excellent name than they.Hebrews 1:2-4 (DLNT)
Each point is also corroborated by the Apostle Paul.
Giving-thanks to the Father having qualified you for your partof the share of the saints in the light, Who delivered us out of the authority of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the
1. Son of [God’s] love,
2. in Whom we have the redemption, the forgiveness of sins—
3. Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation,
4. because all things were created by Him in the heavens and on the earth, the visible things and the invisible things—whether thrones or lordships or rulers or authorities. All things have been created through Him and for Him.
5. And He Himself is before all things, and all things have existence in Him.
6. And He Himself is the head of the body, the church. Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, in order that He Himself might come-to-be holding-first-place in all things,
7. because the Father was well-pleased that all the fullness should dwell in Him and that He should reconcile all things through Him to Himself, having made-peace through the blood of His cross— through Him, whether the things on the earth or the things in the heavens.Apostle Paul, Colossians 1:12-20 (DLNT)
Paul’s list may not be in exactly the same order, but he extoled Christ for the same reasons.
Sevenfold Description of Messiah Jesus
- Son and Heir, appointed by God as heir of all things. Jesus has been given everything in the universe, all creation, everything in the physical and spiritual realms, whether distant past, present in this moment, or in the everlasting future, everything belongs to Jesus. The comprehensiveness of “everything” cannot be overstated. What is seen and unseen, known or not known, the entire cosmos—including you and me—has been given to Jesus.
The writer was not trying to convey the thought that all people will spend eternity with Jesus. Only that all people, all creation, belong to Jesus.
- Creator, having creative power. God made the universe through Jesus. By Jesus’ word everything in the universe came into being. Jesus is the word God spoke in bringing forth all that is.
- Glory, the Light that gives source for all light. Jesus is the expression of God, the radiance, the manifestation of God’s glory, God’s goodness, all God’s divinity, God’s shekinah, the glory that led Israel through the desert, the glory that filled the tabernacle, and later the temple. The glory that Moses saw as God past by him in the cleft of the rock. This is the glory Jesus shone with on the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus is the sum of all the attributes of God.
- Deity, being the exact representation of God’s being. Jesus is the very essence of God, the perfect revealer of God, the exact image of the very nature of God. Those who know Jesus, know God. Jesus explained this to His close followers.
The one having seen Me has seen the Father . . . I am not speaking the words which I am saying to you from Myself, but the Father abiding in Me is doing His works. Be believing Me—that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me.
John 14:9, 10-11 (DLNT)
- Sustaining Power, Who energizes the entire cosmos. The Son is the sustainer of all things. Jesus sustains every government, every person, the very earth itself. He holds it all together. By Jesus all physical laws have been set into motion – gravity is sustained by Christ, atoms hold together by Christ. By Jesus all spiritual laws are sustained, all rescue, all life, is sustained by Jesus.
- Savior and Priest, Who provides purification for sins of the whole world. Once and for all, as the writer would go into great detail later in describing, Jesus addressed the terrible problem of corruption and death. It could only happen one way, by Jesus offering Himself as both
- The death to be destroyed and the Antidote to destroy it.
- The corruption of evil to be cleansed and the Agent to cleanse it.
- The sin to be judged and the Atoner to satisfy judgment.
- The enslavement to be freed from and the Avenger to set free.
Only God could accomplish the eradication of evil, sin, corruption, and death by absorbing all the cost of it within Himself. As Jesus said, He has come to heal the sick and to set the prisoner free.
- Sovereign King, Who sits in the seat of authority. The Son is seated at God’s right hand – indicating Messiah has accomplished all through his death and resurrection. When He died, Jesus said “It is finished.” Then He rose from the dead, proof that His work was complete, and He went bodily into heaven. He alone, in all of heaven is seated by God’s majesty; Jesus is due all honor and glory. He is God the Son, He is Lord. God reveals God to us through God’s Son.
The way to know God is to know God’s Son Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the Lord of all, He is fully God as well as fully human. His death and resurrection, His ascension are all points in history, momentous occasions that stand as markers in eternity with time streaming both forwards and backwards through those forty crucial days.
Though incarnate Christ humbled Himself in a moment in time to take on flesh, Jesus Himself is eternal, and what He has accomplished remains vibrantly fresh.
[c. early 5th century, Catacombs of St. Domitilla, Rome, Italy, Christ on a throne among two groups of apostles before two deceased individuals—screenshot, https://www.livescience.com/59424-paintings-of-christ-in-roman-catacombs.html]