Hebrews 1:1-3

God’s Final Word: His Son

1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways,
2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Hebrews 1:1 in Other Translations

KJV
1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
ESV
1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
NLT
1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets.
MSG
1 Going through a long line of prophets, God has been addressing our ancestors in different ways for centuries.
CSB
1 Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways.

Hebrews 1:1-3 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO HEBREWS

That this epistle was written very early appears from hence, that it was imitated by Clement of Rome, in his epistle to the Corinthians, who took whole sentences out of it; and therefore it could not be a new work, as Eusebius {a} observes: it has been denied to be authentic by some heretics, as the Marcionites and Arians, but has been generally received as such by the orthodox: some indeed doubted of it, because it was not received by the Roman church, as an epistle of the Apostle Paul {b}; though others, who have thought it was not his, as Origen, yet looked upon it as genuine {c}. It has been ascribed to different persons, as to Barnabas, to Apollos, to Luke the Evangelist, and to Clement of Rome, but without any just reason. Clement of Alexandria, a very ancient writer, asserts it to be the Apostle Paul's {d}; and his name stands in the title of it, in all R. Stephens's exemplars, and in all Beza's copies, excepting one, and so it does in the Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions; and that it is his, is highly probable from the agreement there is between this, and other epistles of his; compare Heb 1:2,3 with Col 1:15,16 and Heb 5:12-14 with 1Co 3:1,2 and Heb 12:1 with 1Co 9:24 and Heb 13:7,17 with 1Th 5:11,12, and Heb 13:9 with Eph 4:14 and Heb 13:18 with 2Co 1:12 and Heb 13:20 with \Ro 15:13 16:20 1Th 5:23\ and many other places; and also from the order and method of it, first treating of doctrines, and then proceeding to practical exhortations, which is the common form of Paul's epistles: to which may be added various circumstances; as that it was written from Italy, where Paul was a prisoner; and the mention the author of it makes of his bonds, and of Timothy, as well known unto him, who was Paul's companion; besides, the token of his epistles appears in this, namely, his usual salutation to the churches; see Heb 13:23-25. But above all, the testimony of the Apostle Peter is greatly in favour of its being his, 2Pe 3:15,16 from whence it clearly appears, that the Apostle Paul did write an epistle to the Hebrews; for to them Peter wrote; see 1Pe 1:1, 2Pe 3:1 and what epistle could it be but this? and what Peter refers to is to be found in it; see Heb 10:25,36,37 and which is written with great wisdom; in none of Paul's epistles is there a greater discovery of his knowledge of divine mysteries than in this; and in it also are things hard to be understood, Heb 5:11. The common objections to its being his are, its not bearing his name, the diversity of its style, and the author of it seeming to be not an apostle, but a disciple of the apostle's: as to his not setting his name to it, the reasons might be, because he was the apostle of the Gentiles, and not so much of the Jews; and because of the prejudice of the Jews against him, both believers, and unbelievers; wherefore had his name been to it, it might have prevented the usefulness of it to the one, and have stirred up the rage of the other: as to the difference of style, different subjects require a different style; and yet in many things there is a likeness, as before observed: and as to the author's not being an apostle, which is concluded from Heb 2:3 the word "us" there is to be understood of the believing Hebrews, the disciples of the apostle, and not inclusive of the author, by a figurative way of speaking often used by Paul; and besides, the apostle received a confirmation of the Gospel from Ananias, who might have been an hearer of Christ, though he was at first taught it by Christ himself; add to this, that whoever was the writer of it, it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, and when several of the apostles were living, and therefore he could never design by those words to put himself in a succeeding generation. The persons to whom this epistle was written were Hebrews, or Jews; so called, as some think, from the name of Abraham, the father of them; or, as others, from his passing over the river Euphrates, when he came out of Chaldea into Palestine. So Abram the Hebrew, in Ge 14:13 is by the Septuagint rendered, perathv, "one that passes over", taking it to come from the word rbe, which signifies to "pass over"; with this compare Jos 24:3 and this is the opinion of some of the Jewish Rabbins {e}; though it seems rather that they were called so from Heber, who lived at the time of the confusion of languages; see Ge 10:21, Nu 24:24. And this is the sense of many Jewish writers, ancient and modern, of Josephus {f}, of Jonathan ben Uzziel {g}, of R. Nehemiah {h}, of Aben Ezra {i}, and Kimchi {k}, and others; \\see Gill on "2Co 11:22"\\. And these were the Hebrews that dwelt in the land of Judea, and particularly at Jerusalem; nor were they the unbelieving inhabitants of those parts, but believers in Christ, who were embodied in a Gospel church state, It was a tradition of the ancients {l}, that this epistle was written originally in Hebrew, and was translated into Greek, either by Luke the Evangelist, or by Clement of Rome. But for this there is no foundation; no Hebrew copy can be produced; Munster's edition of it in Hebrew is a translation from the Greek, in which it was, no doubt, originally written, that being the common language, and well known to the Jews; and which appears from the citations in it out of the Old Testament, which are made, not from the Hebrew text, but from the Greek version; and besides, had it been written in Hebrew, the writer would not have interpreted the Hebrew words, Melchizedek and Salem, as he does, in Heb 7:1,2. The time of its writing was before the destruction of Jerusalem, which in this book is signified by the coming of the Lord, and the day approaching; and after Timothy was released from prison, and some time within the two years of his own imprisonment at Rome; when he hoped for a release, as his epistles to the Philippians and to Philemon show. Dr. Lightfoot places it in the year 62, and in the eighth of Nero. And the occasion and design of it is, to set forth the superior excellency of Christ to angels and men, to Moses, to Joshua, to Aaron, and his sons, and the preferableness of his priesthood and sacrifice to the Levitical priesthood and its sacrifices; to teach the Hebrews the true knowledge of the mysteries of their law; to point out to them the design, use, and abrogation of its ceremonies; and to prepare them for what afflictions and persecutions they would be called to endure for Christ; and to exhort them to perseverance, and to strengthen them against apostasy, as well as to instruct them in the various duties of religion.

{a} Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 38. {b} lb. c. 3. & l. 6. c. 20. {c} Eccl. Hist. l. 6. c. 25. {d} Ib. c. 14. {e} Bereshit Rabba, sect. 42. fol. 37. 3. Jarchi in Gen. x. 21. & xiv. 13. {f} Antiqu. l. 1. c. 6. sect. 4. {g} Targum in Gen. x. 21. {h} Bereshit Rabba, sect. 42. fol. 37. 3. {i} In Gen. x. 21. & in Jonam, 1. 9. {k} Sepher Shorashim, rad. rbe {l} Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 6. c. 14. Hieronymi Catalog. Script. Eccl. sect. 15. fol. 91. Tom. 1.

\\INTRODUCTION TO HEBREWS 1\\

The intention of this epistle being to demonstrate the superior excellency of the Gospel revelation to the legal one, the apostle begins with the divine author of it, in which they both agree, and observes that in other things they differ. The revelation under the law was made in times past, the Gospel revelation in these last days; the former was made to the Jewish fathers that were of old, the latter to the then present apostles; the one was made at sundry times, and in divers manners, the other was made at once, and in one way; the one was made by the prophets of the Lord, the other by his own son, Heb 1:1,2 and therefore the latter must be the more excellent; in proof of which the author enlarges on the character of the Son of God, with respect to his person, office, and glory; showing that he is heir of all things, the Maker of the worlds, of the same nature and glory with his Father; is omnipotent, and upholds all things by the word of his power; is the High Priest of his people, who has made satisfaction for their sins, and purged them from them, and is now at the right hand of God, Heb 1:2,3 He goes on to prove that he is more excellent than the angels, by a variety of arguments, and these supported by testimonies from the Scriptures; as that he has a more excellent name than any of them, being called the Son of God, Heb 1:4,5 which is proved from Ps 2:7, 2Sa 7:12-16 that he is the object of the worship of angels, Heb 1:6 which is required of them, Ps 97:7 that he is their Maker and Creator, Heb 1:7 which appears from Ps 104:4 that he has an everlasting kingdom, is a righteous King, and is richly anointed above his fellows, Heb 1:8,9 which is the sense of some passages in Ps 45:6,7 and that he is the founder and former of the heavens, and of the earth, and will endure when they shall not, Heb 1:10-12 which is confirmed by testimonies out of Ps 102:25-27 that he sits at the right hand of God, where none of the angels were ever admitted, Heb 1:13 as is clear from Ps 110:1-7 and besides, the angels, as they are ministers made by him, they are sent out from him to wait on his people, the heirs of salvation, and minister to them, and therefore he must be greater than they, Heb 1:14.

Hebrews 1:1-3 In-Context

1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways,
2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father” ? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son” ?
6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”
7 In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.”

Cross References 13

  • 1. John 9:29; Hebrews 2:2,3; Hebrews 4:8; Hebrews 12:25
  • 2. Luke 1:70; Acts 2:30
  • 3. Numbers 12:6,8
  • 4. Deuteronomy 4:30; Hebrews 9:26; 1 Peter 1:20
  • 5. ver 5; S Matthew 3:17; Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 5:8; Hebrews 7:28
  • 6. Psalms 2:8; Matthew 11:27; S Matthew 28:18
  • 7. S John 1:3
  • 8. Hebrews 11:3
  • 9. John 1:14
  • 10. S John 14:9
  • 11. Colossians 1:17
  • 12. Titus 2:14; Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:11-14
  • 13. S Mark 16:19
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