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Hebrews I - Jesus is the Superior and Final Revelation from God (1:1-4)

Julian Spriggs M.A.

Related articles

I: Superior Revelation (1:1-4) II: Superior to angels (1:5 - 2:18)
III: A Superior Rest (3:1 - 4:19) IV: A Superior Priesthood (4:14 - 7:28)
V: A Superior Covenant (8:1 - 10:18) VI: The Better Way of Faith (10:19 - 12:39)
VII: Practical Instructions (13:1-25)

Prev - Hebrews Intro Next - Hebrews II

Section Introduction

Without any introduction or greetings, the author launches straight into his message. Jesus is introduced as the superior, complete and final revelation from God. No further revelation of the Father is needed, which is why we have a closed canon of Scripture. Philip, one of the twelve, once asked Jesus to “show us the Father” (Jn 14:8). Jesus’ reply was “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”. Jesus is the one through whom the Father has been made fully known.

The basis of the argument is that God has spoken. In contrast to man trying to find God, God has taken the initiative. God is a God of revelation. The wonderful truth is that God is not silent. He has spoken, and continues to speak. Everything we know about God is because God has revealed it to us. It is all at his initiative. Theologians often identify two distinct types of revelation. The first is General Revelation, available to everyone, through the physical creation. In Romans, Paul declares that through the observation of creation we can see that God exists (Rom 1:18). The second is Special Revelation, given uniquely to the nation of Israel through the OT and now also through the NT, which reveals the true way of salvation through Jesus. This special revelation came first in the OT through the prophets, but now comes in his Son. The Bible is the story of God’s self-revelation to sinful mankind and revelation of the way of salvation.

Without revelation from God, we would know nothing about him, and could not know him. We would remain in great darkness, lost in our sin, in a totally hopeless situation. Sin acts as a great barrier, which blocks us from knowing God, and excludes us from the way of salvation. Through the OT, Israel was given a revelation of God’s nature, God’s character and God’s ways. This revelation frequently came through the revelation of specific names of God which described him and his ways.

The prophets normally introduced what they had to say with, “Thus says the Lord”. They had authority to speak from God to the people, having received a call and commission to be a prophet (eg. Is 6, Jer 1). They knew that the words they spoke came from God, but they and their messages were inferior to the Son. Each prophet had only part of the full message, giving part of the full picture of the Messiah. For example, Micah predicted the coming of the shepherd king, Isaiah predicted the suffering servant who will bring salvation, Jeremiah predicted the coming of a new covenant, and Zechariah the coming of a humble king. None of the OT authors had the complete message, they all only had a partial message. The Old prepared for the New, which in turn fulfils the Old. There was what is often called a Progressive Revelation of God. Every revelation was true, but new truths and deeper insights were added as the centuries passed through the OT.

The revelations in the OT often took the form of a promise. Men and women of faith believed in that promise and sometimes saw a partial fulfilment of that promise, but never in their lifetimes experienced the total fulfilment of that promise. One of the important themes of this book is that we are now living in the time of fulfilment of those promises, which the people in OT times only glimpsed at from a distance. “All these (the OT heroes of faith) died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them.” (11:14).

There is an immediate contrast between the old and the new, which continues through the whole book. In the time of the Old, God revealed himself in “many and various ways” (v1). These included visions, events, miraculous signs, spoken words through his prophets, and visitation from angels. Even the spoken words varied, Elijah heard a still small voice, while Moses heard the thundering voice from the mountain. But now, in the last days, the time of the Messiah, God has revealed himself fully and completely by the Son.

A sevenfold affirmation of the Son’s greatness is now given, explaining why the revelation given in him was the ultimate revelation from God, which cannot be increased or improved upon.

The first is that he was appointed heir of all things (v2). Jesus was appointed heir because of his death on the cross (2:9), so he will inherit the whole earth and universe. Everything that exists belongs to Jesus. He is the central person of history. The Psalmist proclaimed, “I will make the nations your heritage” (Ps 2:10), and Paul declared, “At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow” (Phil 2:10). The amazing truth is that we share in this inheritance as fellow heirs (Rom 8:17), which should give us great security. Everything belongs to Jesus, and we do too.

The second is that it was through the Son that God created the worlds (v2). Jesus was God’s agent of creation, the co-creator of the universe. In Genesis, God said, “Let us make man in our own image”. The Hebrew has a plural pronoun for God used with a singular verb, so there is even a hint of the Trinity in the Creation account. The same truth is proclaimed by John, “all things were made through him (the Word)” (Jn 1:3), and by Paul, “In him all things were created” (Col 1:16). Proverbs chapter 8 personifies Divine Wisdom who was there before Creation, and made the universe together with God, “I was beside him, like a master worker” (Prov 8:30). The Son has been with the Father for eternity. He was pre-existent, before the incarnation. The Jesus the readers followed was more than a mere man who had lived a few years earlier in Israel and had been executed as a common criminal, he was the divine co-creator of the universe.

The third is that he is the reflection of God’s glory (v3). This reflection is like the radiance from a bright source of light. Jesus is God’s glory personified, the full revelation of God’s glory, of the majestic presence of God. At his transfiguration, Jesus was changed (metamorphosed) before them, and his face shone (Mt 17:2). In the Gospel of John, the signs that Jesus performed were manifestations of his glory (Jn 2:11).

The fourth is that he is the exact imprint of God’s very being (v3). The word imprint uses the imagery of coin making, where the die and the coin are a perfect match. The Son shows the exact character of the Father. Jesus claimed that to see the son is to see the Father (Jn 14:9), and Paul describes him as the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15).

The fifth is that he sustains all things by his powerful word (v3). Jesus worked with the Father to speak the universe into being, and here, his word keeps the universe together. This double aspect of being both creator and sustainer is also seen in Colossians, “in him all things hold together” (Col 1:16-17). Jesus was dynamically active in creation and continues to be so since then until the end of the world. Creation was by the spoken word of God, and the universe is also sustained and held together by his word. This completely contradicts the deist concept of God as the as a watchmaker who made the universe, wound it up and left it to run on its own. Jesus was active in creating the universe at the beginning, and is still active today holding it together, and moving it towards its destiny. This again should give us great security, we can trust him for our future.

The sixth is that he made purification for sins (v3). The focus now changes from the cosmic functions of the Son to his work of redemption and salvation. This describes his work as a High Priest, which becomes an important theme later in the book, especially in chapter 7. It is an awesome thought, that the co-creator of the universe give his life to set us free. Jesus was the priest and the sacrifice, so the problem of sin is dealt with completely.

The seventh comes as a consequence of the sixth, that he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (v3). Because his work of salvation is complete, he could sit down. Later the contrast is made between the priests standing, continually at work (10:11-12), and Jesus seated, showing that his work is completed. The right hand of God is the place of honour and authority, showing his exaltation and supremacy. Jesus predicted this himself, “From now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God” (Lk 22:69), a statement that led directly to his death for blasphemy. This truth is also stated in Psalm 110, which is frequently quoted in Hebrews as a key text. “The LORD says to my lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool’.” (Ps 110:1).

In this short but profound passage, Jesus is described as the prophet who brings God’s final word to men, the priest whose perfect work cleansed people’s sins, and led the way to draw people near to God, and the king enthroned in the chief place of honour alongside God Almighty. Nobody in the OT was allowed to perform all three roles. Jesus is qualified to be the perfect mediator between a holy awesome God and sinful mankind. The last verse of this section links to the next discussion about the superiority of Jesus over the angels.

Prev - Hebrews Intro Next - Hebrews II

Related articles

I: Superior Revelation (1:1-4) II: Superior to angels (1:5 - 2:18)
III: A Superior Rest (3:1 - 4:19) IV: A Superior Priesthood (4:14 - 7:28)
V: A Superior Covenant (8:1 - 10:18) VI: The Better Way of Faith (10:19 - 12:39)
VII: Practical Instructions (13:1-25)

The Bible

Pages which look at issues relevant to the whole Bible, such as the Canon of Scripture, as well as doctrinal and theological issues. There are also pages about the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and 'lost books' of the Old Testament.

Also included are lists of the quotations of the OT in the NT, and passages of the OT quoted in the NT.

Why These 66 Books?
Books in the Hebrew Scriptures
Quotations in NT From OT
OT Passages Quoted in NT
History of the English Bible
Twelve Books of the Apocrypha
The Pseudepigrapha - False Writings
Lost Books Referenced in OT

Old Testament Overview

This is a series of six pages which give a historical overview through the Old Testament and the inter-testamental period, showing where each OT book fits into the history of Israel.

OT 1: Creation and Patriarchs
OT 2: Exodus and Wilderness
OT 3: Conquest and Monarchy
OT 4: Divided kingdom and Exile
OT 5: Return from Exile
OT 6: 400 Silent Years

New Testament Overview

This is a series of five pages which give a historical overview through the New Testament, focusing on the Ministry of Jesus, Paul's missionary journeys, and the later first century. Again, it shows where each book of the NT fits into the history of the first century.

NT 1: Life and Ministry of Jesus
NT 2: Birth of the Church
NT 3: Paul's Missionary Journeys
NT 4: Paul's Imprisonment
NT 5: John and Later NT

Introductions to Old Testament Books

This is an almost complete collection of introductions to each of the books in the Old Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Genesis Exodus Leviticus
Numbers Deuteronomy

Joshua Judges Ruth
1 & 2 Samuel 1 & 2 Kings Chronicles
Ezra & Nehemiah Esther

Job Psalms Proverbs

Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations
Ezekiel Daniel

Hosea Joel Amos
Obadiah Jonah Micah
Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah
Haggai Zechariah Malachi

Introductions to New Testament Books

This is a collection of introductions to each of the 27 books in the New Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Matthew's Gospel Mark's Gospel Luke's Gospel
John's Gospel

Book of Acts

Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians
Galatians Ephesians Philippians
Colossians 1 & 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy
2 Timothy Titus Philemon

Hebrews James 1 Peter
2 Peter 1 John 2 & 3 John


Old Testament History

Information about the different nations surrounding Israel, and other articles concerning Old Testament history and the inter-testamental period.

Canaanite Religion
Israel's Enemies During the Conquest
Syria / Aram
The Assyrian Empire
Babylon and its History
The Persian Empire
The Greek Empire
The 400 Silent Years
The Ptolemies and Seleucids
Antiochus IV - Epiphanes

Old Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for OT studies. These include a list of the people named in the OT and confirmed by archaeology. There are also pages to convert the different units of measure in the OT, such as the talent, cubit and ephah into modern units.

More theological topics include warfare in the ancient world, the Holy Spirit in the OT, and types of Jesus in the OT.

OT People Confirmed by Archaeology
The Jewish Calendar
The Importance of Paradox
Talent Converter (weights)
Cubit Converter (lengths)
OT People Search
Ephah Converter (volumes)
Holy War in the Ancient World
The Holy Spirit in the OT
Types of Jesus in the OT

Studies in the Pentateuch (Gen - Deut)

A series of articles covering studies in the five books of Moses. Studies in the Book of Genesis look at the historical nature of the early chapters of Genesis, the Tower of Babel and the Table of the Nations.

There are also pages about covenants, the sacrifices and offerings, the Jewish festivals and the tabernacle, as well as the issue of tithing.

Are chapters 1-11 of Genesis historical?
Chronology of the Flood
Genealogies of the Patriarchs
Table of the Nations (Gen 10)
Tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9)

Authorship of the Pentateuch
Chronology of the Wilderness Years
Names of God in the OT
Covenants in the OT
The Ten Commandments
The Tabernacle and its Theology
Sacrifices and Offerings
The Jewish Festivals
Balaam and Balak
Highlights from Deuteronomy
Overview of Deuteronomy

Studies in the Old Testament History Books (Josh - Esther)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the history books. These include a list of the dates of the kings of Israel and Judah, a summary of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and studies of Solomon, Jeroboam and Josiah.

There are also pages describing some of the historical events of the period, including the Syro-Ephraimite War, and the Assyrian invasion of Judah in 701 BC.

Dates of the Kings of Judah and Israel
King Solomon
The Kings of Israel
King Jeroboam I of Israel
The Syro-Ephraimite War (735 BC)
Sennacherib's Invasion of Judah (701 BC)
King Josiah of Judah
Differences Between Kings and Chronicles
Chronology of the post-exilic period

Studies in the Old Testament Prophets (Is - Mal)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the OT prophets. These include a page looking at the way the prophets look ahead into their future, a page looking at the question of whether Satan is a fallen angel, and a page studying the seventy weeks of Daniel.

There are also a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of two of the books:
Isaiah (13 pages) and Daniel (10 pages).

Prophets and the Future
The Call of Jeremiah (Jer 1)
The Fall of Satan? (Is 14, Ezek 28)
Daniel Commentary (10 pages)
Isaiah Commentary (13 pages)
Formation of the Book of Jeremiah

Daniel's Seventy Weeks (Dan 9:24-27)

New Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for NT studies. These include a list of the people in the NT confirmed by archaeology.

More theological topics include the Kingdom of God and the Coming of Christ.

NT People Confirmed by Archaeology
The Kingdom of God / Heaven
Parousia (Coming of Christ)
The Importance of Paradox

Studies in the Four Gospels (Matt - John)

A series of articles covering various studies in the four gospels. These include a list of the unique passages in each of the Synoptic Gospels and helpful information about the parables and how to interpret them.

Some articles look at the life and ministry of Jesus, including his genealogy, birth narratives, transfiguration, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the seating arrangements at the Last Supper.

More theological topics include the teaching about the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete and whether John the Baptist fulfilled the predictions of the coming of Elijah.

Unique Passages in the Synoptic Gospels
The SynopticProblem
Genealogy of Jesus (Matt 1)
Birth Narratives of Jesus
Understanding the Parables
Peter's Confession and the Transfiguration
Was John the Baptist Elijah?
The Triumphal Entry
The Olivet Discourse (Mark 13)
Important themes in John's Gospel
John's Gospel Prologue (John 1)
Jesus Fulfilling Jewish Festivals
Reclining at Table at the Last Supper
The Holy Spirit as the Paraclete

Studies in the Book of Acts and the New Testament Letters

A series of articles covering various studies in the Book of Acts and the Letters, including Paul's letters. These include a page studying the messages given by the apostles in the Book of Acts, and the information about the financial collection that Paul made during his third missionary journey. More theological topics include Paul's teaching on Jesus as the last Adam, and descriptions of the church such as the body of Christ and the temple, as well as a look at redemption and the issue of fallen angels.

There are a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of five of the books:
Romans (7 pages), 1 Corinthians (7 pages), Galatians (3 pages), Philemon (1 page) and Hebrews (7 pages)

Apostolic Messages in the Book of Acts
Paul and His Apostleship
Collection for the Saints
The Church Described as a Temple
Church as the Body of Christ
Jesus as the Last Adam
Food Offered to Idols
Paul's Teaching on Headcoverings
Who are the Fallen Angels
The Meaning of Redemption
What is the Church?
Paul and the Greek Games

Romans Commentary (7 pages)

1 Corinthians Commentary (7 pages)

Galatians Commentary (3 pages)

Philemon Commentary (1 page)

Hebrews Commentary (7 pages)

Studies in the Book of Revelation

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the study of the Book of Revelation and topics concerning Eschatology (the study of end-times).

These include a description of the structure of the book, a comparison and contrast between the good and evil characters in the book and a list of the many allusions to the OT. For the seven churches, there is a page which gives links to their location on Google maps.

There is a page studying the important theme of Jesus as the Lamb, which forms the central theological truth of the book. There are pages looking at the major views of the Millennium, as well as the rapture and tribulation, as well as a list of dates of the second coming that have been mistakenly predicted through history.

There is also a series of ten pages giving a detailed commentry through the text of the Book of Revelation.

Introduction to the Book of Revelation
Characters Introduced in the Book
Structure of Revelation
List of Allusions to OT
The Description of Jesus as the Lamb
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
The Nero Redivius Myth
The Millennium (1000 years)
The Rapture and the Tribulation
Different Approaches to Revelation
Predicted Dates of the Second Coming

Revelation Commentary (10 pages)

How to do Inductive Bible Study

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study the Bible inductively, by asking a series of simple questions. There are lists of observation and interpretation questions, as well as information about the structure and historical background of biblical books, as well as a list of the different types of figures of speech used in the Bible. There is also a page giving helpful tips on how to apply the Scriptures personally.

How to Study the Bible Inductively
I. The Inductive Study Method
II. Observation Questions
III. Interpretation Questions
IV. Structure of Books
V. Determining the Historical background
VI. Identifying Figures of Speech
VII. Personal Application
VIII. Text Layout

Types of Literature in the Bible

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study each of the different types of book in the Bible by appreciating the type of literature being used. These include historical narrative, law, wisdom, prophets, Gospels, Acts, letters and Revelation.

It is most important that when reading the Bible we are taking note of the type of literature we are reading. Each type needs to be considered and interpreted differently as they have different purposes.

How to Understand OT Narratives
How to Understand OT Law
Hebrew Poetry
OT Wisdom Literature
Understanding the OT Prophets
The Four Gospels
The Parables of Jesus
The Book of Acts
How to Understand the NT Letters
Studying End Times (Eschatology)
The Book of Revelation

Geography and Archaeology

These are a series of pages giving geographical and archaeological information relevant to the study of the Bible. There is a page where you can search for a particular geographical location and locate it on Google maps, as well as viewing photographs on other sites.

There are also pages with photographs from Ephesus and Corinth.

Search for Geographical Locations
Major Archaeological Sites in Israel
Archaeological Sites in Assyria, Babylon and Persia
Virtual Paul's Missionary Journeys
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
Photos of the City of Corinth
Photos of the City of Ephesus

Biblical Archaeology in Museums around the world

A page with a facility to search for artifacts held in museums around the world which have a connection with the Bible. These give information about each artifact, as well as links to the museum's collection website where available showing high resolution photographs of the artifact.

There is also page of photographs from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem of important artifacts.

Search Museums for Biblical Archaeology
Israel Museum Photos

Difficult Theological and Ethical Questions

These are a series of pages looking at some of the more difficult questions of Christian theology, including war, suffering, disappointment and what happens to those who have never heard the Gospel.

Christian Ethics
Never Heard the Gospel
Is there Ever a Just War?
Why Does God Allow Suffering
Handling Disappointment

How to Preach

These are a series of pages giving a practical step-by-step explanation of the process of preparing a message for preaching, and how to lead a small group Bible study.

What is Preaching?
I. Two Approaches to Preaching
II. Study a Passage for Preaching
III. Creating a Message Outline
IV. Making Preaching Relevant
V. Presentation and Public Speaking
VI. Preaching Feedback and Critique
Leading a Small Group Bible Study

Information for SBS staff members

Two pages particularly relevant for people serving as staff on the School of Biblical Studies (SBS) in YWAM. One gives helpful instruction about how to prepare to teach on a book in the SBS. The other gives a list of recommended topics which can be taught about for each book of the Bible.

Teaching on SBS Book Topics for SBS