Worshipped of Angels: A Look at Hebrews 1 (Pt.13)

But to which of the angels has He ever said: “ Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?

The argument in order to offer a distinction between the Son and the angels continues. His intent is to make certain the reader is has well understood the urging he has presented.  The writer now draws from his previous thoughts in v. 5 when he stated For to which of the angels did He ever say then continuing with quotations from Psalm 2 and 2 Sam. 7.  The emphasis here is to make a reiteration from the previous thoughts in vs. 5-7. This is quite popular in Hebrew thought along with the technique of repetition for emphasis. Once again we have in this case a question asked which must be answered in the negative sense.

The writer proceeds to once again consistently cite OT passages to substantiate his claims. This time around he quotes from the 110th Psalm which is a very well known Psalm since it is the most quoted Psalm in all of the New Testament scriptures. This passage is corresponding back to v.3 where the writer states that the Son sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high once again pointing to the enthronement of the king. The fact that anyone could ever sit on the throne of God was foreign to Jewish thinking since it brought the concept of equality with God. This is exactly what enraged the High Priest during the Lord’s mock trial.

Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. (Mark 14:62-63)

There has been some controversy surrounding the word till (Heos) where there seems to be a time of ending to His sitting on the throne. There have been those who would submit that Christ couldn’t be God since His reign on the throne will come to an end. To hold to this position in any logical terms would mean that one would have to ignore the previous 12 verses that demonstrate His divinity with clarity. Sadly this is the case, in our experience, with those who have a religion to defend. The earthly reign of Christ is in view here when He will leave the throne in heaven to make rule over the earth (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 19:11-12; cf. Isaiah 63:1-3) What a glorious day this shall be!

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Worshipped of Angels: A Look at Hebrews 1 (Pt.12)

And:“ You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.

The crescendo of the writer’s argument to these confused Hebrews who were in consideration of defecting back to their former religion is now upon us. These last four verses embellish and elucidate the previous passages. It is imperative that we take note of the opening term of this verse found in a little three letter word “and”. The term is a translation from the Greek kai which is used to demonstrate the continuation of the Father’s address of the Son. The flow of the address was initiated previously in v.8 with the expression “but to the Son He says”. The whole point of the term “And” is that the Father is not finished speaking of His Son!

The writer maintains the same line of argumentation by quoting from another Psalm; mainly the 102nd Psalm. We must emphasize the importance of understanding that this quote that is attributed to the Son is one of great importance. Scholar F.F. Bruce gives a brief description of the motives of God in this Psalm:

The Psalm, which begins “Hear my prayer, O Yahweh,” is truly described in its superscription as “a prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint, and pours out his complaint before Yahweh.” Both he and Zion, his city, have experienced the judgment of God, but he makes confident supplication for mercy and restoration for himself and Zion, that men and women may assemble there once more to give praise to God. He is oppressed by a sense of the brevity of his personal span of life, with which he contrasts the eternal being of God. IN comparison with his short life, heaven and earth are long-lived; yet heaven and earth must pass away. They had their beginning when God created them, and they will grow old and disappear one day; but the God who created them existed before they did, and he will survive their disappearance. As one man in his lifetimes outlives many successive suits of clothes, so God has seen and will yet see many successive material universe, but he himself is eternal and unchanging.[i]

The significance of recognizing that the God of the scriptures is a unique God is vital to our argument. Jehovah is a God that possesses characteristics that make Him God that no other being can possess no matter how exalted they might be. What makes Him God is found in the verses of the Psalm and here attributed to the Son.

The first unique trait of Jehovah is found in the exclusiveness of His name.  Notice an often-missed expression “You, LORD” which, since it is quoting the OT Psalm, could be rendered “ You, Jehovah”[ii]. The most unique characteristic of God is found in His name, the name that was set apart as a token of expressing His being and Holiness. The Father applies to His Son the very name that is never used of a mere creature.

The second divine attribute is that of creatorship. This we have dealt with previously in verse 2. The expression sought to be articulated by the writer in based upon the word “Beginning” and should be taken as a parallel expression to that found in other portions of Holy scripture. God created “in the beginning” (Genesis 1:1) while the Father and Son were together (John 1:1; 1 John 1:1). The uniqueness of this attribute can be examined in the trial of the false gods found in Isaiah 40-48 which argues for the sole deity of Jehovah, the God of Israel especially in v.44:24.

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Worshipped of Angels: A Look at Hebrews 1 (Pt.11)

A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness

The realm of the human justice system has suffered tremendously over the years. Although many would see it as having gained much ground from a humanitarian perspective (and we certainly would agree) however there is much to be desired regarding its efficacy. Our slogan of “ it is better to let 100 guilty men go than wrongly convict an innocent man” has produced some remarkable injustices especially towards the victims and their families.  Thankfully, this will not always be since He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31). The comforting thought that we should dwell upon in the study of the throne of Christ is that the one sitting upon it is the king of righteousness (Hebrews. 7:2) and His justice is one that is perfectly executed. There will be nothing imperfect in His judgment.

The writer parallels this throne to that of a scepter. The scepter, much like the throne, is an emblem of authority (Ester 5:2) and this particular scepter is in its very essence one of “righteousness”. The term for “scepter” would refer to a scepter that is totally straight without any curbs or slants. The scepter is one of justice in which all evil, seen or hidden, will be brought to light and judged by one who is fit to judge. All crimes that have occurred and victims that have been unfairly treated will finally be able to utter that they have received the justice they had demanded in this life. This is the righteousness that will be His kingdom. The scepter is also a symbol of His Kingship for which He shall rule over all things in the final things to come.

The phrase You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness is in the past tense. We believe this is referring back to his first coming since this expression was substantiated in His time on earth through His testimony.  It should be noted that there are interchangeable terms used by the writer to reflect upon the nature of righteousness in that the one who loved righteousness is also the one who hated lawlessness. If we would for a moment examine this in a practical sense we would be right in saying that believers should examine themselves in that if they are professing to love the righteousness of their Saviour then there must be alongside this affection the hatred of all that is unrighteous. Oftentimes people associated the hatred of ungodliness as a form of judgment however this is not necessarily correct since it is not the act of judgment in question but the heart being repulsed by that which is wicked. This is oftentimes a natural thing in light of being “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29)

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Worshipped of Angels: A Look at Hebrews 1 (Pt.10)

But to the Son He says:“ Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;

We can almost feel the overwhelming excitement when the writer penned these next phrases. The contrast in regards to the Son to the angels begins with the small conjunction “but” (de) which is meant to bring about the thought of distinction. Jesus Christ the Son of God is no angel or archangel. Our great heavenly Father after having expressed Himself regarding His angelic creation now turns His attention towards a much better and greater being; mainly the Son. The entire focus of the next few verses will be on demonstrating the superiority of the Son to the angels in both being and function.

What the Father says regarding the Son is certainly one of the most blatantly clear evidences to the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ ever written in the New Testament or anywhere in scripture. The Father now makes reference to the grounds by which the Lord Jesus is contrasted to the angels. In His first statement to the angels He makes reference to their being and in v.8 parallels this by explaining the nature of the Lord Jesus in referring to Him as “God” (ho theos). 20th Century writer A.W. Pink writes:

This supplies us with one of the most emphatic and unequivocal proofs of the deity of Christ to be found in the scriptures. It is the Father Himself testifying to the Godhead of Him who was despised and rejected of men.[i]

But with such a clear statement how then are there so many in our generation past and present who still deny this glorious biblical truth? Much like any other passage of scripture there is an attempt to deny the plain meaning of this text. There are two different methods that are produced in their disagreement: firstly that the term “God” (Theos) shouldn’t be taken literally in this case and merely defined as a demi-god or secondly there are those in liberal circles who would challenge the translation of the text.

The first argument truly has no basis since when we examine the terminology used by the writer[ii] we must come to the conclusion that he is referring to full deity and not merely a likeness of God.[iii] The thought that Christ would have held a nature that is “in between” God and angels is not compelling since these Jews would have found great comfort in this. The reason for their console is because they could have held both views and escaped persecution however the writer makes it clear throughout the epistle that there couldn’t merely be a compromise and these believers were forces in a “all or nothing” situation.

The second argument however carries with it a little more weight. Some have translated the opening words of v.8 as “God is thy throne” instead of the traditional “thy throne, O’ God”. The difference is in how we interpret the writer’s intention when quoting the psalm. Some have come up with some strange arguments to hinder the traditional translation that we feel should be ignored.[iv] If the writer meant to use the nominative case then “God is thy throne” is the proper translation however if the vocative is used then the traditional translation should be rendered. Some scholars have expressed that there is some uncertainty as to how exactly the Greek should be deciphered[v] however we feel as many other scholars[vi], that the evidence for the vocative is stronger because of certain points.

  1. Stemming from the issues surrounding the LXX translation of Psalm 45:7 which seems to point to the vocative reading.[vii]
  2. The vocative seems much more natural due to the word order utilized by the writer.
  3. A study of the evidence relating to legein proV is more naturally rendered as “say to” than “spoken about”.
  4. The context has as it primary point to demonstrate the superiority of Christ over the angels which would be ineffective.
  5. When we look further at vs.10-12, the reading of “thy throne, O’ God” is more probable given that the writer uses the Psalm 102 to define God with His unique attributes.[viii]

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Worshipped of Angels: A Look at Hebrews 1 (Pt.9)

But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “ Let all the angels of God worship Him.”

There is always something to hope for when we are in Christ! The day when Christ will be “worshipped of angels” will be a day of comfort and joy to those who are His. The terminology of “firstborn” is utilized to reflect what was said regarding the name “Son”. It is used as a synonym to refer back to the glorious anointed of Jehovah. The expression when He again refers to His second coming with great power and glory.[i] It is a day that is always weighing on our hearts since it brings great excitement to us to think that one day He will demonstrate His victory to His foes and those who love Him will bow the knee to Him in love and worship (Philippians 2:9-11) together with the angels.

The term “firstborn” is from the Greek prototokos, which is derived from two words; mainly protos (first) and tiskos (begotten). Its meaning in scripture is twofold in that it can have the meaning of the one who is first to be born in a family hence derives its connotation from an order from older to younger. The other sense in which it is used and this we believe is the proper definition in this portion would be in a sense of rulership[ii]. There has been some opposition to this definition by those who would adhere to the inferiority of the Son to the Father by which they appeal to the text of Colossians 1:15 where the term is used as well. This is unfortunately faulty exegesis and mainly ignores contextual, historical and cultural study. The term “firstborn” is used for the Lord Jesus in both ways; firstly in Luke 2:7 we read that the Lord Jesus was Mary’s firstborn Son hence here we have the definition of a place within a family due to a birth. In the text of Colossians 1:15 the Lord Jesus is referred to as the “Firstborn of all creation” however the meaning is made apparent by v.16 with the little word “for” (hoti). The word “for” can be translated as “because”; it gives reason for the title “firstborn of all creation”. We might ask why is Jesus Christ the Firstborn of all creation? The reason Paul gives is simply that it is because “by Him all things are created”. Every thing that comes into existence does so by Him hence He has power and dominion over everything due to His creatorship.[iii] The reference here to firstborn is parallel to that found in the text of the letter to the Colossians. It should also be noted that the term “world” here is different than in v.2[iv] which would here in v.6 be insinuating the inhabited world which would have been the Roman Empire (Acts 17:6).

The topic of worship now comes to our attention in that we are presented with a wonderful truth that will be before us shortly in the final things. The worship of our Lord Jesus Christ is certainly a joyous consideration for the believing Christian as well as a burden upon those who would reject that the Lord Jesus is Jehovah the Son. The writer is quoting from the 97th Psalm where Jehovah demands the exclusive worship above all others even the “gods” that were idols. The term worship is one of exclusiveness and only directed towards God Himself (Deut. 34:14; Matthew 4:10). Even the most exalted beings such as angels could not receive the worship[v] that is given to God (Colossians 2:18; Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9). The writer however uses the language reserved for Jehovah and with great confidence applies it to our Lord Jesus. This powerful statement identifies the Son as Jehovah God since worship is unique to Jehovah! Obviously, there are those who have attempted to downplay this plain meaning of scripture by redefining the term “worship” to mean simply the act of “obeisance”[vi] and have even challenged the grammar by using reputable sources out of context[vii]. Their argument is that the Son is to be honoured however never worshipped. The Lord Jesus was worshipped on many occasions (Matt.2:2,11; 14:33; 28:9,17; Luke 24:52, Rev. 5:8) and if we examine the term “worship” in the scriptures we will see that it applies also to the Father in the same way as the Son (John 4:21-24; 1 Cor. 14:25; Rev. 4:10; 5:14; 7:11; 11:16; 19:10).[viii] There is a significant importance in the worship of the Lord Jesus since it is clear that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. (John 5:23) This is the same worship that the devil insisted upon when tempting the Lord however it is fitting to note that Satan never received it however the Lord Jesus certainly did (Matthew 28:17-18). There has also been different terminology used to illustrate the preciseness of our assertion that the Son is worshipped in the same manner as the Father.[ix] In the Second Advent we will have the most beautiful and lofty creatures of God expressing to the glorious Son the worship He so deserves and we will be gladly by their side joining in that worship.

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Worshipped of Angels: A Look at Hebrews 1 (Pt.8)

For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are my Son, Today I have begotten You?” And again: “ I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”?

Prior to even quoting the first text of scripture, the writer uses the style of writing similar to that of the apostle Paul with the imaginary objector. The question is to which of the angels did He ever say… The answer to the question is quite simply none! It answers itself in the negative! He quotes Psalm 2:7, which is a coronation Psalm used during the coronation ceremony for a new King. The Psalm is demonstrating the utter sovereignty and power of Jehovah over and above even the most powerful rulers of the earth. Men had attempted to align themselves together against God however the Lord laughs at their efforts. Even with their greatest endeavor, they could not stop God from installing His King mainly His Son who will rule over them. Hebrews is expressing likewise the absolute sovereignty and rulership of the Son over all nations. This is defined as His “inheritance”. The point of the Psalm and of Hebrews is not to show the inferiority of Jesus Christ but to demonstrate His superiority above all things since He is the ruler of all.

The angels are called the sons of God (Genesis 6:2,4; Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7) as well as Adam in Luke 3:38 however the language used to assert the relationship between the Father and the Son is far greater than that of angels (John 3:35, 5:20, 14:31). The term “today” has provoked some controversy in that some have asserted that the writer is referring to the Lord Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:11) however when we examine the language of Acts 13:33 we understand that Luke used the Psalm to speak of His resurrection. It does refer back slightly to His human nature however this is something that the Lord Jesus possesses after the resurrection as well while being the eternal High Priest (Heb. 5:5). The writer goes on to the heart of the reason why the Lord Jesus is vested with honour. Brethren writer Sydney Maxwell explains:

Hebrews 1:5 reminds us that He is greater than angels because of His eternal relationship to God. “Thou art my Son” is timeless; it is before and beyond time. “This day have I begotten thee” does not refer to the commencement of His Sonship, but to the communication of it, by the Father, in His resurrection…The word anastasis is translated a number of times as resurrection.[i]

 

It is not difficult to find confusion with regards to the term “begotten” since, as previously mentioned, we tend to attempt to read the scripture through the lenses of our 21st century culture rather than putting ourselves in the place of the recipients of this letter. When we seek to understand the language of the term “begotten” we must understand the bestowing of one as king. The term brings to mind the expression of dignity that comes with Kingship. The term “only-begotten” is the expression of a unique personification which is exalted in a position of honour.[ii]

The connection finally reaches its peak with the grand revelation of the unique relationship between the Father and the Son. The words expressed have truly given us a sense of the love there exists between the Father and the Son. This is the perfect example of what the love between a father and his son should be. We have here a parallel thought from the previous section in v.5, which continues with the expressive exaltation of the Son. This is communicated to us by the second quotation from the OT from 2 Samuel 7:14 where it is used as a reference to Solomon. It should be carefully noted however that many scholars believe the quote could also be in line with 1 Chronicles 17:13 where we read: I will be his Father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. This would refer to the throne as being one that is of infinite value since the one sitting on it is the promised one whom shall always be the possessor of this majestic place of rulership.


[i] The Person of Christ, S. Maxwell, Gospel Tract Publications, Page 46

[ii] 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. Examine Hebrews 11:17 where Isaac is called the only begotten son of Abraham however we know that by reading in Genesis about the sons of Abraham that Isaac wasn’t his only son but held a unique place in the family.

Worshipped of Angels: A Look at Hebrews 1 (Pt.7)

Having become so much better than the angels

The writer’s argument now contends with these spiritually frail believers the superiority of Christ by turning to the angels.[i] We cannot continue before mentioning in passing that there can be no separation between what was said previous to this passage to the verse itself. We can continue to divulge from the line of argumentation used by the writer that he had a very good knowledge of his audience. These Jews would have rendered their focus on the humanity of the Lord Jesus and since they viewed angels as greater than men they would have been confused as to exactly why the New Covenant would be “better” than the old.

When the writer expresses the term “having become” (KJV “being made”), he is referring to what happened following His work on the cross in accomplishing eternal redemption. This is evidenced in verse 3 and is continuing thought of His glorification due to the purging of sins. Here the writer is demonstrating that the Son as a man had willfully subjected Himself in His positional standing to the point of being said to be “lower than the angels” (Hebrews 2:9) however, after accomplishing His perfect work at Calvary, He was exalted by the Father. The term seems to be interchangeable with the words “sat down”.

The angels would have been very familiar to the reader’s Jewish background. The study of these angelic beings could be very accumulating in its scope hence we do not have the time or space to give this field of study its proper place. A brief definition is however necessary.  W. Grudem states that Angels are created, spiritual beings with moral judgment and high intelligence, but without physical bodies.[ii] The number of angels is unknown however it is said to be thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands (Revelation 5:11), which are an innumerable company of angels (Hebrews 12:22). There is only speculation on how they came into existence. There are some who have gone to great lengths to give all sorts of interpretations[iii] however this passage, in keeping with the rest of the letter, would be referring to heavenly hosts. These Jewish descendants would have learned from their religious roots that the angels would have delivered Hagar (Genesis 16:7), appeared to Abraham (Genesis 18:1), to Isaac (Genesis 22:11), Jacob (Genesis 32:1), Moses (Acts 7:53) and delivered Lot (Genesis 19:1), protected Israel (Numbers 20:16) and most importantly they gave them the law (Galatians 3:9). The angels would have been the highest of God’s creatures whom make their abode in heaven (Matthew 24:36), whom excel in strength (Psalm 103:20), who are Holy (Matthew 25:31) and whose primary function is that of a minister (Psalm 104:4).

We then see that the Son is not on equal terms with these angelic beings but He is “better” (Kreitton) than the angels. The term “better” is used 13 times in Hebrews[iv] to indicate superiority over and above something else. We must examine why exactly it is that He is “better”. The thought here seems to focus upon a threefold sphere in that the Lord Jesus is better than the angel because (a) He possesses a better nature, (b) His relationship to the Father is superior and (c) the primary focus is that the Lord has accomplished a better work than they. Angels were said to be mediators between Jehovah and men however the Son is an even better mediator than the angels since He provided Himself as a sacrifice that far exceeded the pleasure of God.

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Worshipped of Angels: A Look at Hebrews 1 (Pt.6)

When He had by Himself purged our sins

Those familiar with the OT sacrifices will see much thrust to the terminology used by the writer in this instance. The sacrifice of animals were at the heart of Judean thought and appreciation since this was the means by which they were forgiven of their sin for a period of time. Even though the language is similar to that of the things of old there was one issue of dissimilarity that must have gotten the reader to consider. That in this instance it was the actual high priest who was the sacrifice rather than the priest conducting the sacrifice of another. We have seen thus far some very familiar themes that will echo through the rest of the epistle, mainly the prophet and kingship of Christ. We now enter into the most precious of the writer’s arguments in the powerful work of the Great High Priest.

Firstly, from a translation perspective, the New King James Version and the King James Version differ slightly from some of the more “modern” translations. The NASB reads: “When He had made purification of sins” which is in accordance with the NIV, ESV, Segond and the J.N. Darby translation would agree with the modern translations in that he places the “by himself” in brackets and omits the word “our”[i]. The expression “to purge” is in the aorist tense hence would refer back to something. It would be referring to “having purged” sins rather than giving the idea that it of something unaccomplished. The purging is fundamentally the same idea as being “washed” (1 Corinthians 6:11) or making their robes white (Revelation 7:14) which is of highest necessity in order to enter the midst of Jehovah (Isaiah 6:7). This is the founding work of Christ to which makes Him superior to anyone or anything in the Old Testament Judaism because His sacrifice was an act of self-denial and finally accomplished an actual purging from sin. He is deserving of all glory and worship for He accomplished His goal.

“Had purged” is borrowed from the sacrificial language used later in the letter. We read that how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14) as well as And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. (Hebrews 9:22) The question that might render some reflection to us today is whether or not this purging is active or potential?[ii] Christ did not slay bulls or goats but offered up to the Father, as our High Priest, the sacrifice of Himself! He has cleansed us from our unrighteousness and we are the people who are the recipients of a true purging that leaves nothing to further do to accomplish salvation. Later on in the letter, the writer expands on this paradigm with these beautiful words.

By so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.

Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. (Hebrews 7:22-27)

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Worshipped of Angels: A Look at Hebrews 1 (Pt.5)

The express image of His person

I remember in my youth when I worked at a retail outlet and at one point we were having issues with counterfeit money. Our storeowner provided to us a machine with a special light to detect that which was authentically printed in contrast with that which was a counterfeit. Either way, these two bills, either true or false, were an exact representation of the stamp and there was certainly a need of a gadget to sort out the good from the bad. Not only is the Son the “brightness of His glory” but also the writer then furthers an even greater statement concerning the Son, mainly that He is “the express image of His person”. The New American Standard Bible translates it “the exact representation of His nature in which we feel would be in greater accordance with the original meaning.

The term “express image” or “exact representation” is a translation of the term “charakter” which, in its original form would have referred to an instrument used to engrave a coin. The term then progressed in its meaning during the time of the writing of this epistle in which it would have found it’s meaning as that of a stamp or the print of a signet ring. Whatever it was that you saw on the coin or stamp was exactly what was on the ring. There was no difference at all; it was identical![i]  In other words the Lord Jesus is the exact nature of the Father. Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest explains:

The words “express image” are the translations of charakter. This word was used in classical Greek of an engraver, one who mints coins, a graving tool, a die, a stamp, a branding iron, a mark engraved, an impress, a stamp on coins and seals. Metaphorically it meant “a distinctive mark or token impressed on a person or thing, by which it is known from others, a characteristic, the character of.” It was a Greek idiom for a person’s features. It was used of the type or character regarded as shared with others. It meant also an impress or an image. The classical usage of this world should throw some light upon its use in the New Testament.[ii]

Dr. A.T. Robertson continues:

Charakter is an old world from charasso, to cut, to scratch, to mark. It first was the agent (note ending=ter) or tool that did the marking, then the mark or impress made, the exact reproduction, a meaning clearly expressed by chargma (Acts 17:29, Rev. 13:16f.)[iii]

The next portion defines exactly what the term exact representation is linked to. The relation of this perfect image is with His “person” or “nature” (NASB). The term used is “hupostasis” which seems to imply the nature, essence or substance of someone. It denotes “that which has actual existence; a substance, real being” and “the substantial quality, nature, of any person or thing”[iv]. It must be stated that this is not His bare essence, but His whole nature with a correspondence as close as that which an impression gives back to a seal[v]. Greek scholar W.E.Vines explains its relation to the former:

Hupostasis came to denote essence, substance, the inner nature. Christ is the very representation of the divine essence. The whole phrase expresses the fact that the Son of God is a distinct person from the Father and yet one with Him in the Godhead. He is His equal, as being the perfect representation of His essence.[vi]

The terminology used reflects much of what Paul was conveying in Philippians 2 with the expression “form of God”. Paul used the term “morphe” which denotes the very nature all that God is. Truly, In Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9 NASB) The Lord Jesus proclaimed He who has seen Me has seen the Father;(John 14:9) since only the Son could manifest the Father to these disciples.

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Worshipped of Angels: A Look at Hebrews 1 (Pt.4)

Who being the brightness of His glory

The writer, in his constant and continuous crescendo, persists with His approach in identifying the Son to His reader by utilizing language that is almost foreign to us today. This language would have however been so incredibly poetic and real to the reader of that day. We must go back to the time of the letter in order to attempt to grasp the words of the writer since our modern mind cannot truly find the application in its fullest sense.

Firstly, an examination of the verb “being” here would be a good point of beginning to our study. The verb does not denote a language expressing time but simply is simply denoting existence. The Lord Jesus did not become or begin to exist in the brightness of His glory but He simply is the brightness of His glory. The term signifies absolute and timeless existence! This is the same expression surrounding the proclamation of the Lord Jesus in John 8:58 where He states not only that He had existed before Abraham but that “before Abraham was, I AM”. The words uttered by the Lord caused these Jews to pick up stones to end His life for they understood that He was confirming His eternality.[i]

The expression “the brightness of His glory” is a remarkable attribute of the Lord Jesus. Jehovah is said to be the “king of glory” (Psalm 24:10) and the Father’s glory is what will illuminate the city of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:24). Some have attempted to downplay its significance by stating that He is merely “the brightness” and this somehow implies a “lesser” insinuation to the expression. It should be noted that this type of thinking begins with the presupposition that Christ is inferior to the Father since when a proper study of the language is conducted, we see that it promotes not only that He shares in the glory of the Father (John 17:5) but also that the Lord Jesus is the very essence of His glory. This is substantiated when we look at the parallel between the king of Glory (Psalm 24:10) and the term “Lord of Glory” in 1 Corinthians 2:8. The brightness or radiance relates back to the Father Himself since it is the Father “who alone has immortality, dwelling in the unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Timothy 6:16). The only means by which a person can see the Father is by seeing Jesus Christ. Christ is the manifestation of the effulgence of God in its totality. The apostles, during the mount of transfiguration, saw His glory (Luke 9:32) and, as John could write, we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) The people of God await patiently His coming will be with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:31) The glory is not something that is simply in His possession but something that He shared with the Father. During the Lord’s High Priestly prayer, He speaks to the Father relishing His plea: O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. (John 17:5). This was a glory that they possessed together as the one true God Jehovah. As the solar light brings the very essence of the sun to us, so has Christ brought to us the holiness, the wisdom, the beauty, the perfection, of God.[ii]

This writer is very much in sync with the parallel passages found in John 12:41 in the vision of the prophet Isaiah. Let us take the time to examine this since we feel that it is of great importance to grasp this particular paradigm.

Continue reading “Worshipped of Angels: A Look at Hebrews 1 (Pt.4)”