The first two things we would typically do when beginning a study of a book of the Bible is identify the writer and the audience he was addressing. That’s usually easy to do by reading the first paragraph or two. Sometimes we need to add historical context in order to understanding what was happening in the lives of the intended audience. I’m going to try to keep this introduction short and get into Hebrews chapter 1 instead of dedicated a post to it. I don’t know who wrote Hebrews. If you believe the Apostle Paul wrote Hebrews, I’m not going to argue with you. As a well-studied and passionate Pharisee he would have certainly had the background into the Old Covenant. We also see numerous examples in his epistles that relate the ministry of Christ to the Old Testament examples, descriptions of Jesus and Adam as types of first men, and exhortations that that the grace that comes through Jesus Christ is superior to the Law. If you do not believe that Paul wrote Hebrews then I will not argue with you either. In the 13 New Testament epistles written by Paul he clearly identifies himself as the author and the writer of Hebrews is left anonymous. That would be a divergence from his usual style. I will not engage in any debate over the authorship of Hebrews but will defer a statement many Christians would do well to adopt and apply to a variety of topics: the Bible doesn’t speak to that. If it were important for us to know then God would not have allowed that detail to be lost to history. As far as identifying the audience is concerned it is more than suggested by the title. Hebrews is addressed to Jewish believers that have accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah and offers evidence that this was always God’s plan.
I will cite a very few key verses but the link above will open Hebrews 1 in the English Standard Version (ESV) on Bible Gateway in a new tab. You can easily change the translation at the top of the page. Keeping the text open in another tab, splitting your screen between two windows, or having an open physical Bible next to your laptop, desktop, phone or tablet may be helpful. At the very least I would encourage you to read through the chapter before or after the Bible study I present.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…
I have often said that the whole Bible, from one end to the other, is the story of how a Holy God relates to people that are sinful, fallen and broken. At the center of that story is Jesus. That idea is affirmed at the very beginning of Hebrews. Sometimes the prophets brought a word of encouragement and at other times a message of warning. Sometimes the prophets described future events but that is certainly not the only thing they did. At a time when the Holy Spirit did not dwell with humanity the prophet served as the mouthpiece for the voice of God. There were men identified as prophets in the Old Testament and others that perhaps we don’t think of applying that term to. Peter calls David a prophet in Acts chapter 2. Noah, Abraham, Moses and Aaron are other examples of people that were listening to God and sharing his thoughts and precepts. Verse 2 continues the same sentence and says that now God has spoken to us by his Son.
Verse 2 goes on to say through whom he also created the world. John 1:1-3 and Colossians 1:15-17 confirm Jesus as creator God. Jesus is not a created being. He not only exists from everlasting to everlasting but was instrumental in creation. Someday he will sit down as righteous judge over creation. Hebrews 1:3 reads a lot like Colossians 1:15 in describing the Son as being in the Father’s image. We are all made in God’s image but Jesus is even more so, being the exact imprint of his nature. We are called as Christians to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29) which goes far beyond physical appearance as we are to have the same mind as Christ (Philippians 2:5).
The rest of the chapter does a compare and contrast between Jesus and the angels to demonstrate the superiority of Christ. God has not said to angels that they are his sons but has said of his Son “Let all God’s angels worship him.” Angels must not become the objects of worship. Think about the angel that stopped John the Revelator from bowing down to worship, reminding him to worship God alone. To the Son, continuing in Hebrews 1, he said that his throne is forever. Look at verse 10 for further confirmation that the Son of God has laid the foundation of the world and that the heavens are the work of his hands.
Salvation is mentioned in 1:14, the final verse of this chapter. Chapter 2 will focus on salvation and so shall we next week. Questions, comments and your responses are welcome.
UPDATE: We’re experimenting with something new. Click the play button below to listen to this Bible study. Let us know if this is something you would like to see again!