Has in these last days spoken to us by His Son,
Now that the writer has established common ground with the recipients of the letter, he then proceeds to begin his main thesis that Christ Jesus, the Son of God, is superior to Judaism. This is the theme of the letter throughout and in the next few verses he gives a strong summation of his intentions in writing this letter.
There is no shift of argumentation taking effect here since we notice that the writer is clearly stating that the one whom spoke to the fathers is still the same one who is speaking in these times. In the same way that the Old Testament scriptures were divinely inspired; the message proclaimed to the readers finds its nature from a divine breath also. The author has not changed or been supplemented however the writer demonstrates that the message itself is superior! How can this essentially be since it is the same primary author in both cases? The answer lies in the fact that there is a progression of revelation in mind here. The progression has made everything of old much clearer and has as its purpose to complete what was always directed and pronounced in the past. The succession finds its way to Christ and not beyond Christ. There is a sort of conclusion within these words in that the greatest revelation to mankind has finally been received[i]. The prophets were always pointing to the Messiah. They were the road signs giving directions on how to arrive at the final destination which is the fulfilling of the promises found in the Messiah.
Let us now return to our observation in identifying when this revelation took place. We saw in the previous portion that the revelation came in time past however in direct contrast of this, the writer states that this communication came these last days. This would point to the close of a former time. There had been a space of most likely 300 years since God had spoken through Malachi and finally the consummation of the promised one had come. The course of revelation having been accomplished in the speaking of God in the Son. Reformer John Calvin explains:
When he speaks of the last times, he intimates that there is no longer any reason to expect any new revelation; for it was not a word in part that Christ brought, but the final conclusion. It is in this sense that the apostles take “the last times” and “the last days”…If God then has spoken now for the last time, it is right to advance thus far; so also when you come to Christ, you ought not to go farther: and these two things it is very needful for us to know. For it was a great hindrance to the Jews that they did not consider that God had deferred a fuller revelation to another time; hence, being satisfied with their own law, they did not hasten forward the goal.[ii]
Next we should explore to whom He has spoken in these times. The rendering “to us” seems to point to once again a particular people. There is no sense in this terminology of a declaration to every single individual who ever lived but the special revelation comes to, once again, His people. This would be directed to believers of that age especially to these men who were at risk of defecting back to their former religion and to the writer himself.
Thus far we have seen the comparison in the level of argumentation of the writer in that he compares the two revelations. We saw that God speaks:
- In the past verses in these last days
- To the fathers verses to us
- In the prophets verses in His Son
The final analysis is the crescendo of His introductory argument. Why is Christianity a better revelation than that of old? The reply is simply defined in that it is found in His Son! This is one of the most remarkable names given to the Lord Jesus Christ. We have here a title given which denotes firstly a relationship back to the Father. This is an eternal relationship as Son.[iii] The Lord Jesus did not “become” the Son during His incarnation since it is clear that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. (1 John 4:9). The text does not communicate the thought of Christ being sent to become the Son but that God sent His Son into the world. It is equally strengthening to read the words of the Proverb when he asks: “what is His name, and what is His Son’s name? (Proverbs. 30:4). Once again note what the text doesn’t say; it doesn’t express what the Son’s name will be but the inspired writer asks what is. The term “Son” seems to have the implication of subordination found especially in the counsel of God due to the eternal plan of salvation. The term “Son of God”[iv] would be also a proclamation of His deity[v] in that the Lord Jesus shares in the very nature of Jehovah (Philippians 2:6).
The speaking of God is “in Son” and not “in His Son” since the term “His” is not found in the original reading. There is a certain authority given to the Son due to the lack of this pronoun. Writer A.W. Pink explains:
It will be noted that the word “His” is in italics, which means there is no corresponding word in the original. But the omission of this word makes the sentence obscure; not are we helped very much when we learn that the preposition “by” should be “in”. “God hath spoken in Son.” Yet really, this is not so obscure as at first it seems…”In Son” has reference to that which characterized God’s revelation. The thought of the contrast is that God, who of old had spoken prophetwise, now speaks sonwise”[vi]
There is a greater authority in the words spoken by the Lord in that they were of His own ability while the prophets were simply uttering the words of another. In Son would be referring not to what the Lord Jesus said but what He is (John 1:18). This is demonstrated in the proclamation of their utterance. When the prophet expressed the words of the Lord he generally began with “thus saith the Lord” while the Son proclaimed the words of the Lord with “Amen, Amen, I say unto you”. There is, within these thoughts, the remarkable understanding that this Immanuel who had spoken these words while on earth was in fact the same being that had spoken them in the past. This is who they will be persuaded to follow throughout the letter.
[i] Some would argue that the canon is still open and hence their “scripture” is just as inspired as the Bible. One group that promulgates this view is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints whom contest that their scriptures, the book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenant and the Pearl of Great Price should be put on equal grounds with the scriptures. The vital flaw in this is that firstly the bible is a much more ancient book which states that God does not contradict Himself. When we examine the book of Mormon alongside the Christian Scriptures, we see a tremendous difference between the two in regards to fundamentals concerning the nature of God, Salvation and so forth—See Jerald & Sandra Tanner’s book “Mormonism: Shadow or Reality” for a more in-depth look.
[ii] Commentary on Hebrews, John Calvin, Baker Books, Page.33
[iii] We will be dealing with the eternality of the Son later in this study
[iv] Some have found difficulty in the term “only begotten son” in which some have associated with a point of origin. The Watchtower and many others will utilize this term to demonstrate a point of existence of the Son. The KJV & NASB both render the word “monogenes” as only-begotten yet the NIV translates it as “One and Only”. The term monogenes can be divided into two separate words, monos meaning unique, only, one of a kind and genes (gennos) which refers to a kind or a type. In the earlier days, it was thought that the genes was from ginnomai yet through research, scholars have come to the conclusion that the term would have been taken from the gennos. We must although when reading words in scripture that there is such a thing as terms having different meanings due to their context. Since there are many passages that refer to the Lord Jesus as being eternal, without a beginning, we must, in essence compare scripture as a whole in order to avoid any confusion. The key to understanding the passage is understanding the primary point of what John was trying to get across which wasn’t the origins of the Lord but his uniqueness, that He is the Only one of His kind. The same expression is used of Abraham’s son Isaac: By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. (Hebrews 11:17) however we know that Abraham had other children and Isaac was “only begotten” in His special position within the family as the chosen one whom he had a special love for.
[v] The text of Isaiah 9:6 refers to the Son that is given and the same one who is called “mighty God”.
[vi] An Exposition of Hebrews, A.W. Pink, Baker Books House, Page 26