Read: Hebrews 1:1-3
Hebrews opens talking about the continuous revelation of God through fathers and prophets and in these “last days” has spoken to the world through his son. In a way, the author of Hebrews was talking about how God was revealed entirety of the Old Testament, which is called the “Tanakh” in the Hebrew language. “Tanakh” is a sort of acronym that stands for The Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. The fathers and prophets are uncovered all these portions of scripture. The Law is the first five books of the Old Testament. The Prophets includes Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, and 1 & 2 Kings, and Isaiah through Malachi. Lastly, the Writings include the rest of the Old Testament. The Old Testament revelation stopped with Malachi, but the author of Hebrews effectively asserts that the latest revelation on par with the Old Testament that had come into the world came through God’s Son himself, namely Jesus.
The opening verses of Hebrews also offer one of the most unequivocal statements about the deity of Jesus in all of the New Testament. Not only is God being revealed through Jesus, Jesus himself is on par with God. Hebrews asserts many things about Jesus in these verses:
- He is “heir to all things”. Ultimately, everything will belong to Jesus in the end (Ephesians 1:20-23, Philippians 2:9-11).
- Through him the “worlds” (The word is plural in the Greek) were made. This indicates not just the earth, but the entirety of the cosmos. For this to be possible, Jesus would have had to been present in Genesis 1:1 when God created the heavens and the earth. John makes a similar statement in his prologue, saying he is the originator of all things that came into being (John 1:3). Paul asserts that all things were made through Jesus too (Colossians 1:16).
- Jesus is the “radiance of his glory”. The word translated “radiance” is difficult to translate because there is not a word in English correlates with it, but a literal translation would be an “out shining” in the manner the sun radiates sunlight. In a manner of speaking Jesus radiates the glory of God.
- Jesus is “exact imprint of his nature”. The word here for imprint is a figurative form of a tool engravers used to make precise imprints on objects. Jesus is said to be an exact representation of God’s nature, substance, or essence. In classical Greek thought, earthly objects were seen as cheap copies of some sort of perfect, transcendent form. Jesus was not some sort of cheap copy, rather a perfect representation of that form. Colossians 1:15 asserts that Jesus is the very “image” of God. John says that Jesus he who has seen Jesus also sees the Father (John 14:8-11). Jesus is not merely a projection of God – he is so much more than that.
- He upholds the world by his power. Not only was Jesus at the creation of the cosmos, it through him that the world is held together. In Colossians 1, Paul also asserts that Jesus holds the cosmos together (Colossians 1:17).
- He made purification for sin. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice that satisfied the requirement of the law so that those who believe don’t have to. For man to be reunited to God, a perfect sacrifice had to be made. The only one qualified as a perfect sacrifice was God himself.
- He sat down at God’s right hand. The right hand of a God is the ultimate place of authority, and Jesus claims it. The imagery of Jesus taking the right hand is seen a number of times in the New Testament, drawing from Psalm 110:1. (Matthew 22:41-46, Mark 12:35-37, Acts 2:34-35, Hebrews 1:13, Hebrews 10:12-13) and elsewhere in Mark 16:9, Mark 14:62 (paraphrasing from Daniel 7:13-14) Acts 5:31, Acts 7:56, Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1, 1 Peter 3:22, and Revelation 5:7. By taking the right hand seat, Jesus has all the same authority of God.
Jesus has all the glory, power, authority, and qualities that are recognized in God. These powerful descriptors of Jesus can only point to one thing: Jesus is God. These statements alone are enough to establish the supremacy of Christ, but the author of Hebrews does not stop there. He continues in the book to show how the Old Testament vindicates the qualities.
When God spoke through the fathers and prophets, he was pointing to what would come. When Jesus came, he was fulfilled what the fathers and prophets yearned for. As this study of Hebrews continues, this will be unfolded. But right off the bat, Jesus divinity is established to assure the reader that Jesus was not merely another prophet, rather that Jesus himself is God revealed.
Lord, what words can express glory, power, and authority revealed in Jesus? You truly are amazing!