Enter subtitle here
1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Surely these first words of Hebrews are the most impressive and majestic opening of any of the books in the Bible! They are comparable only to John's Gospel and first Epistle. Both are on the same subject: the greatness of Christ as the Son and manifestation of God.
God spoke in many different portions and many different manners in the past through the prophets. These were not belittled: all were vital, all were glorious. But now has come the full, open, unveiled, manifestation of the glory and goodness and purpose "in these last days." All the "many portions" that went before are fulfilled and completed and bound together in Christ in these "last days." They were the last days of Israel's commonwealth, the last days of the wonderful, but now passing, law given through Moses which had led them so long.
The Old Covenant was ended. It had run its course and accomplished its purpose. It was, as he says later, "waxed old and ready to vanish away." It was the end of the Mosaic age.
The Temple was about to be destroyed; the sacrifices discontinued; the nation scattered; the Covenant broken off.
The Epistle to the Hebrews is the great divine call to the Hebrew Christians to now leave the Law and Judaism behind-to go forth to Christ without the camp, bearing his reproach. That to which all the Law and Prophets had pointed for so long had now come-the Seed of the Woman; the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world; David's Son; the Messiah; Emmanuel-God with us.
How much more beautifully and briefly could Christ's position be defined? He was everything. All that went before bowed before him. All that followed after sprang from him. *
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
What was said was not, in the, kindness of God, intended for those only to whom the word came in the first instance, but was at last made as wide as the world to everyone that had "ears to hear." Therefore we of the high ways and hedges have an opportunity of sitting at the festal board of the King.
...At first by the angels; then by His Spirit in the prophets, but last by a Son -- not His Son, though Jesus was His Son. "His" is not in the original; its insertion favours Trinitarianism the correct translation is "by a Son," leaving room for the fact that God has
"many sons whom He will lead to glory" (Heb. ii. 10).
His word came through man before, but in this case His word was made man; it became flesh by the operation of the Spirit on Mary.
Bro Roberts - The Greatness of Christ
In the first place, the Lord Jesus did not use the phrase "the end of the world" in the vulgar English sense of it. He said to the eleven, "Behold, I am with you, PASAS TAS HEMERAS, all the days, HEOS TES SUNTELEIAS TOU AIONOS, until the end of the age." Here are certain days indicated, which were comprehended in the period to elapse from the time when Jesus made the promise until the end of the age. These days are termed by Paul "these last days" (Heb. 1:2), which he characterises as those in which God spoke to the Israelites by a Son, as well as those in which he was writing to the Hebrews some thirty years after -- "these last days," says he.
Now, these days taken collectively he styles, according to the English version, "the end of the world," as it is written, "Now once in the end of the world hath Jesus appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb. 9:26). The reader will easily perceive, by the mark in the text, that the world spoken of was that to which Jesus stood related by death; that it was near its end when He was crucified by it.
But if the world is to be taken in the vulgar English sense, Paul was wrong in saying that Jesus sacrificed Himself in the end of it, for surely that period was not the end of the world, which passed away eighteen hundred years ago! But the truth is, Paul was perfectly accurate in what he wrote. He knew nothing about the English sense of his words, for there were neither Englishmen nor English words in his day. He penned Hebraisms in Greek words; that is, he put the things God had taught Israel into a Greek dress.
He wrote "the things of the spirit in the words of the spirit selected from the Greek language. What he said in the text before us was, "but now once for all EPI SUNTELEIA TON AIONON at the end of the ages hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
" The constitution of Mount Sinai was the founding of the Hebrew world, or KOSMOS, because it ordered, or arranged, the things pertaining to Israel as a system SUI GENERIS. This system had times peculiar to itself, which were appointed at. the promulgation of the law. These are termed in Scripture AIONES, that is, AIONS, from AEI alway and ON passing. The etymology of AION does not express the duration of the time; its continuance is defined by the Mosaic law.
The Hebrew Commonwealth under the Sinaitic constitution was not intended to continue always. The time of its existence was predetermined of God, but not revealed in the law or the prophets, but "reserved in His own power" (Acts 1:7; Mark 13:32). It is termed AION, and its approaching termination SUNTELEIA TOU AIONOS the end of the time, that is, of the Hebrew Commonwealth under the Mosaic law.
But, though the precise duration of this great time (1697 years) was kept secret, the lesser times, or AIONES, aions, of which it was composed, were very minutely specified, as in the case of the Jubilees, so that the whole time of the commonwealth was the AION TON AIONON, the aion of the aions, the time of the times, or age of the ages. Hence, while the Lord Jesus designated the consummation as the end of the time, Paul indicated it as the end of the times, or ages.
Elpis Israel 2.1.
The greatness of Christ was what they must see. This alone could free them from their fleshly bondage. And it is what we must see also. See that, and everything falls into place. To this greatness we are invited to be related. God has approached us and called us to Him, invited us to be part of His glorious Son, to put away everything else and seize this pearl of great price.
It is well that we constantly contemplate the infinite greatness of Christ in the Divine purpose. It broadens and enlarges our natural petty, fleshly outlook so often absorbed in trivialities. Paul said to the Corinthians, trying to lift their small cramped minds from petty present things-
"All things are yours-the world, or life, or death or things present, or things to come. All are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's!" (1 Cor. 3:21-23).
With this most glorious relationship and destiny, how can we for a moment be concerned about the childish passing things of the present? Nothing matters but this. Nothing begins to compare with this. Get this one thing clear and strong enough in our minds, and everything else fades away and disappears.
Hebrews portrays the supreme greatness of Christ-over the angels, over Moses, over the Levitical priesthood-all very great in their place in God's purpose. To these three provisions from God, the faithful Israelites had taken heed and trusted through all their history.
But while Hebrews gives the fullest and clearest presentation of greatness and glory and preeminence of Christ in the divine purpose, it also speaks the most clearly of his weakness and subjection to mortal flesh, and his complete dependence upon the subordination to the Father.
It is Hebrews that speaks of his strong crying and tears; his being saved from death; his being heard in that he feared; his learning obedience by the things that he suffered; his being brought from the dead by the blood of the Covenant; his being made perfect through suffering.
The truth concerning Christ and his real struggle and his great victory is very beautiful and inspiring; more, it is transforming. It can turn ugliness to beauty, and death to life.
By whom also He (God) made the worlds"
Rather -"Through whom He made the ages-the aions."
All the ages-dispensations, different periods in the development of God's purpose - revolve around Christ. As in English, "made" in Hebrew is far more than to just create; it is to prepare, make ready or arrange. *
Thus, then, there are three parties, yet constitutionally one family, who are heirs of the world as it will be politically organized in the future age, namely, Abraham, Christ, and the believers in the promises made to them, called saints; who are in Abraham as their father, and in his Seed as their elder Brother.
These are the inheritors of the kingdom and empire attached to the land of Canaan; "the children of the promise who are counted for the Seed;" and "not of the world," or subjects. These are men in the flesh, Jews and Gentiles, whose lives and fortunes will be at the disposal of the Royal Family of God. The members of this circle are not known now by the world which has set its affections upon those who mislead it, teaching it to look for a visionary elysium beyond the skies! But such leaders have no light in them, for they do not speak according to the law and testimony.
The word of God converts their wisdom into folly, declaring in the teeth of their traditions, that "he that putteth his trust in God shall possess the land, and shall inherit His holy mountain" (Isaiah 57:13); while Israel in the flesh "shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land for ever, as the branch of the Lord's planting, the work of His hands, that He may be glorified. A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation. I, saith the Lord, will hasten it in its time" (Isaiah 60:14,18,21,22).
Elpis Israel 2.2.
3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his 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;
This word "brightness" simply means the "fullness of the shining forth." It has always been the yearning of godly men to see, and feel, and more fully comprehend the glory of God. Moses, pressed down beyond measure with the burden of faithless, childish, fleshly, rebellious Israel, said-
"Show me Thy glory" (Ex. 33:18).
...Christ was the full manifestation of that glory to man*.
More literally and correctly-
"The exact engraving of His substance."
We might point out, first of all, that this loses much of its basic meaning if we do not have a true understanding of the wonderful revelation of man being made in the image of God. But it goes much further - for it is clearly something special as related to Christ - as related to his greatness, as related to his work and accomplishment for men.
...The perfect man, the perfect image of God, the perfect, flawless, unblemished manifestation of God - the perfect Son and likeness of the perfect Father.
Perfection is a tremendous and overwhelming conception. We shy away from it as unearthly and unreal, but the command is -
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48).
This is what we must aim at constantly, unceasingly, every moment- every deed, word and thought brought into captivity to the mind of Christ.
There is a tremendous power and incentive and joy and glory in even the attempt to be perfect. What greater adventure, what greater ambition, what greater satisfaction can anything in life offer more than this complete mastery of the mind and body by the power of the Spirit of God!
This was Christ. This was his power. This was his greatness before God and men. His life was the most lowly; his circumstances the most humble; his possessions nothing; his end complete desertion by his friends, and rejoicing and triumph by his enemies.
And yet, he could truly, calmly, peacefully, triumphantly say of that end-
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you- be of good cheer- I have overcome the world"
(Jn. 14:27; Jn. 16:33).* Bro Growcott - By Himself
4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
But He is the appointed "Heir of all things, on account of whom", "the dispensations were re-arranged by the word of God, to the end that the things seen exist not from things apparent" (Heb. 1:2; 11:3).
But, says the apostle, "we do not yet see all things put under Him: but we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that by the grace of God he should taste death for every man" (Heb. 2:8-9). Having been thus laid low, and for this gracious purpose, He is no longer "lower than the angels." He is equal to them in body; and made so much superior to them in rank, dignity, honour, and glory," as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they" (Heb. 1:4).
In Jesus, then, raised from the dead, incorruptible, and clothed with brightness as when He was transfigured upon the Holy Mount (Matt. 17:2), we behold the image and likeness of the God. When we contemplate Him by faith, as we shall hereafter by sight, we see A MIRROR from which the glory of Yahweh is reflected in intellectual, moral, and physical grandeur.
He that would know God must behold Him in Christ. If he be acquainted with Him as He is pourtrayed in the prophets and apostles, he will understand the character of God, whom no man hath seen, nor can see; who chargeth His angels with folly, and before whom the heavens are not clean. Jesus was the true light shining in the darkness of Judea, whose inhabitants "comprehended it not." Through Him, God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shone into the hearts of as many as received Him, to give them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; that so they might receive power to become the sons of God, believing on His name (2 Cor. 3:18,4:6; John 1:5-12).
How consoling and cheering is it, then, amid all the evils of the present state, that God hath found a ransom, who is willing and able to deliver us from the power of the grave; and not only so, but that "at the manifestation of the sons of God " (Rom. 8:17-25), when He shall appear in power and great glory, "we shall be like Him: because we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). Then will the saints be "changed into the same image from glory," now only a matter of hope, "into glory," as seen and actually possessed, "even as the Lord " Himself was changed, when He became "the spirit giving life," or "a quickening spirit."
Elpis Israel 1.2.
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?
These promises are styled "an everlasting covenant even the sure mercies of David" (Isaiah 55:3; Acts 13:34). There can be no doubt to whom they refer, for the apostle has applied them to Christ.
In his last words, David thus expresses himself concerning them,
"The God of Israel spake to me, saying, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And He (the Just One) shall be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain. Although my house be not so with God; yet He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure; for this is all my salvation and all my desire, although He make it not to grow" (2 Sam. 23:3-5).
This covenant of the throne and kingdom was David's desire and salvation, because it promised him a resurrection to eternal life, in the assurance that his house, kingdom, and throne, with God's son and his son, one person, sitting upon it, should be established in his presence for ever. (Psa 89:3-4, 19-28, 34-37).
"I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, saying, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. He shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation. Also I will make him my first-born, higher than the kings of the earth. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing which has gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven'' (Psalm 89:3, 4, 19-28, 34-37).
After these testimonies there requires no further proof that David's family was constituted by a solemn covenant the Royal House of God's Kingdom; and that one of David's posterity whom God should acknowledge to be his son, should be its everlasting king. The claims of Jesus to be David's Seed and God's Son have been fully established by his resurrcetion from the dead; which is an assurance to all men, both Jews and Gentiles, that God hath appointed him, as the Holy one of Israel their king; to rule the world in righteousness, and to establish truth and equity among the nations; as God sware to Moses, saying, "Truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord."
Elpis Israel 2.4.
6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
Man, however, differs from other creatures in having been modelled after a divine type, or pattern. In form and capacity he was made like to the angels, though in nature inferior to them. This appears from the testimony that he was made "in their image, after their likeness," and "a little lower than the angels" (Psalm 13:5), or Elohim. I say, he was made in the image of the angels, as the interpretation of the co-operative, "let us make them in our image, after our likeness" ...
...David says, "worship Him all ye gods;" (Psalm 92:7) which Paul applies to Jesus, saying, "let all the angels of God worship Him" ... But the race will not always be inferior in this respect. It is destined to advance to a higher nature; not all the individuals of it; but those of the race "who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that age (the future age) and the resurrection from among the dead . . . who can die no more: for they are equal to the angels (isaggeloi); and are the sons of God, being the sons of resurrection" (Luke 20:35-36).
Elpis Israel 1.2.
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.
We Look For New Heavens
Give us a government animated by pure benevolence, armed by universal authority and irresistible power; and distinguished by the wisdom essential to successful enterprise of all kinds, with the world's exchequer at their disposal, and therefore untrammelled by considerations of economy in the arrangements made for the comfort and convenience of the people -- give us such a government, and all the people in every land would be as well looked after as the passengers on board the magnificent liners that plough the ocean in all directions. Man cannot give it us: God can and will: for He has promised. Therefore, we patiently wait.
Bro Roberts, Dairy of a Voyage, page 27
14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
But at the fitting up of earth as a new arena for the display of the power and wisdom of the Eternal Spirit, they who figure in the work, had attained to their eternal redemption; and had become "spirits" -- Holy Spirit corporeal intelligences -- because they had been born of the Eternal Spirit or Father.
To what orb or planet of the universe they are indigenous, is not revealed; but as they are not ab-original to an earth-born race, they are not sovereign here; but only, as Paul says, "public official spirits, sent forth for service on account of those thereafter to inherit salvation"
Phanerosis - 'Elohim Developed From The Seed of Abraham'
Israel and the nations are under their [Angelic] vicegerency till the Lord Jesus comes to assume the sovereignty of the world. When he appears in his kingdom, the land of Israel especially will be no longer subjected to their superintendence.
Elpis Israel 2.3.
"What part do angels take in the Kingdom of God?
They will be the glorious attendants on Christ at his coming (Matt. xxv. 31). They will take part in the triumphant ascription of praise to his glory (Rev. v. 11), and they will be the visible mediums of communication between heaven and earth during the reign of Christ (Jno. i. 51)." (Matt 25:31; Rev 5:11; John 1:51 cf. Mark 13:26,27; Acts 1:11; 1Thess 4:16).
Furthermore, it is a well established principle of the sacred writings, that what the Everlasting Father does by His agents, He is considered as doing Himself. There is a maxim in law similar to this which runs somehow thus, qui facit per alios facit per se, what one doth by, or through others, he does of himself. If this be borne in mind, many incongruities will be harmonized. Thus, the Lord is said to have appeared to Abraham as he sat in his tent door (Gen. 18:1), but when he first caught sight of the visitant he did not see the Lord, but "three men," or Elohim, of whom one was the chief. Read the whole chapter and to v. 29 of the next, and it will be seen that the Everlasting God talks and acts by, or through, these Elohim, but chiefly through one of them styled the Lord God.
In another place God is said to appear to Jacob (Gen. 35:9) and in the second verse to say to him "I am God Almighty," and in the thirteenth "God went up from Him in the place where He talked with him." He was then at Bethel where formerly "the Elohim were revealed unto him." On that occasion he dreamed that he saw a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, "the Lord standing above it, and the angels of God ascending and descending on it."
These angels were the Elohim, or "ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Heb. 1:14). On one occasion they declared to Jacob the promises made to his father and grandfather in the name of the "Invisible God;" he wrestled with God in wrestling with one of them, etc. Hence, they speak in the first person as personators of the Invisible and Incorruptible Substance, or Spirit who is the real Author of all they say and do.
On a certain occasion, the Invisible God spake to Job out of the whirlwind and said "Where wast thou when I laid the foundation of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof? Declare if thou knowest. Or, who hath stretched the line upon it? Or, who laid the corner stone thereof; when the Morning Stars sang together, and all the Sons of God shouted for joy?"
Job could not answer these questions. He knew, doubtless, what the Elohim had done; but "touching the Almighty," by whose spirit they operated, "we cannot," said Elihu, "find him out." The Elohim were these Morning Stars and Sons of God. Jesus is styled "the Bright and the Morning Star," "the Day Star," and the Son of God. To say, therefore, that the Elohim are Morning Stars and Sons of God, is to speak in the language of Scripture.
The relation of the Elohim to Him that dwelleth in the light in the work of creation and providence may better appear by the following illustration. Experimental philosophers can form water, air and earths; they can bring down lightning from the expanse; they can weigh, or rather, calculate the weight of, the sun, moon and stars; they can speak by electricity, paint by sunlight, and outstrip the wind by fire. These are the wonderful combinations of their genius. But what have these they did not receive? And from whom did they receive it?
They subject certain substances to certain conditions. They do not originate a single principle. The elements and the laws to which all simple and compound bodies are subject are independent of the experimenters. They may say "Let water be formed;" and by passing the electric spark through the gaseous mixture water will be formed; but it is the power of God that does it, not theirs. After a like manner the Elohim gave the word; they brought the latent elements of the globe into play; they gave direction and application to power; and the spirit of the Invisible God accomplished all they were commanded to arrange.
The spirit of the Incorruptible God, through the Elohim, created the heavens and the earth. They said "Let there be light;" they saw that it was good; He made the expanse; they called it heaven -- He did it all through them, and they executed, by His power, what He enjoined. This power or spirit being committed to them, it became "the spirit of the Elohim." Hence, in the beginning, the spirit of the Elohim created; which, being plainly indicated in the second verse of the first chapter of Genesis, needed not afterwards to be repeated; so that
throughout the chapter "Elohim" is written instead of "the spirit of the Elohim," and is found in connection with a singular verb, not as its nominative, but as the governed word of the nominative singular, ruach, spirit, understood. This is the solution I offer of the grammatical enigma.
It is a part of the "strong delusion" which has supplanted the truth, to suppose that the Invisible God left the throne of the universe on a visit to this region of immensity, where, like a mechanic building a house, He worked in creating the earth and all things therein. After this fashion He is supposed to have made man; and, when his mechanism was complete, to have applied His mouth to his nostrils and "breathed into him a particle of His own divine essence, by which he became a living and immortal soul."
Such a procedure on the part of the "Only Potentate," whose abode is in the light, and whose servants, the Elohim, are innumerable, would have been unfitting His dignity and underived exaltation.
He has revealed Himself to us as a Potentate, a King, a Lord, etc.; now, they who fill these stations commit to others the service of executing their will and pleasure, And thus it is with the Invisible and Eternal Potentate. His kingdom ruleth over all. His angels, or Elohim, mighty in strength, do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His words. They are His hosts, His ministers that do His pleasure (Psa. 103:20, 21).
Elpis Israel 1.6.