Hebrews 1:1–4

Exposition

In this chapter our Savior’s glorious person is very plainly set before us, and it is made the ground of our faith, and a reason why we should give the more earnest heed to His words, lest at any time we should let them slip.

1 God spoke long ago Saving the best for last is always God’s rule. “You have kept the good wine until now” (John 2:10). Prophets are a very blessed means of communication, but how much more sure, how much more condescending is it for God to speak to us by His Son!

2 he has spoken to us by a Son Jesus is God’s own Son. What do I know about that wondrous truth? If I were to try to explain it, and to talk about the eternal filiation, I would only conduct you where I would soon be entirely out of my depth, and very likely I would drown all that I could tell you in floods of words. Deity is not to be explained, but to be adored. The sonship of Christ is to be accepted as a truth of revelation, to be   p 7  apprehended by faith, though it cannot be comprehended by the understanding. There have been many attempts made by the fathers of the Church to explain the relationship between the two divine persons, the Father and the Son. But the explanations had better never have been given, for the figures used are liable to lead into mistake. Suffice to say that, in the most appropriate language of the Nicene Creed, Christ is “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God.” He is co-equal with the Father, though how that is, we do not know. He stands in the nearest possible relationship to the Father—a relationship of intense love and delight, so that the Father says of Him, “This is my beloved Son” (Matt 3:17; 17:5; Mark 9:7). Indeed, He is one with the Father, so that there is no separating them, as He Himself said, in reply to Philip’s request, “Show us the Father”; “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:8, 11).

heir of all things Of which nature of Christ does the apostle speak in this sentence, “whom he appointed heir of all things”? I do not think that Paul here separates the two natures, so as to speak with absolute reference to either one or the other; but he speaks of the person of Christ, and in that person there is God, and in that same person there is most surely and most truly man. But we must take this description of Jesus Christ as appointed “Heir of all things” in his person as man, and as God and man combined; for, as God alone, Christ is necessarily “Heir of all things” without any appointment; but in his complex person as God and man conjoined, the Father has appointed him to be “Heir of all things.”

Now, what does this mean but that Christ possesses all things as an heir possesses his inheritance, that Christ is Lord of all things, as an heir becomes lord and ruler among his brethren. This appointment is to be fully carried into effect by-and-by; for, “now we do not yet see all things subjected to him” (Heb 2:8). Christ is Lord of all the angels; no seraph spreads his wing except at the bidding of the “Heir of all things.” There are no bright spirits, unknown to us, that are beyond   p 8  the control of the God-man, Christ Jesus; and the fallen angels, too, are obliged to bow before His omnipotence. As for all things here below, material substances, people regenerate or unregenerate, God has given Him power over all flesh that he should give eternal life to as many as His Father has given Him. He has put all things under His feet, “and the government shall be upon his shoulder.” He is Heir, or Master, and Possessor of all things;—let me say, of all sorts of blessings, and all forms of grace, “because he was well pleased for all the fullness to dwell in him” (Col 1:19); and as surely as time revolves, and you mark the fleeting minutes upon the dial’s face, the hour is coming when Christ shall be universally acknowledged as King of kings and Lord of lords. Already I seem to hear the shouts go up from every part of the habitable globe, and from all heaven and all space, “Hallelujah! For the Lord God, the All-Powerful, reigns!” (Rev 19:6). All must willingly, or else unwillingly, submit to His sway, for His Father has appointed Him “Heir of all things.”

Christ Never Lacks Power to Heal Preaching Themes: Power of God, Health and Healing, Jesus, Salvation Sometimes, when a physician has a sick man before him—suppose it is on board ship—he may have to say to him, “I think I could cure your disease if I could get such-and-such a medicine. But, unfortunately, I do not have the drug within my reach.” Or the doctor might have to say to the sufferer, “I believe an operation would effect a cure, but I have not the instrument that is necessary for it.” Never will the great Physician of souls have to talk like that, for the Father has committed all things into His hand. Have we not beheld Him as the glory of the Father, full of grace and truth? You great sinner, Christ is not lacking in power to save you. If you come, and trust yourself in His hands, He will never have to look about to find the balm   p 9  for your wounds, or the ointments or liniments with which to bind up those putrefying sores of yours!

through whom he also made the world I love to think that He who created all things is also our Savior, for then He can create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. If I need a complete new creation—as I certainly do—He is equal to the task.

3 who is the radiance of his glory Shade your eyes, for you cannot look upon this wondrous sight without being dazzled by it. Some commentators say—and it is not an inappropriate analogy, though we must not push any analogy too far—that, as light is to the sun, so is Jesus to the glory of God. He is the brightness of that glory. That is to say, there is not any glory in God but what is also in Christ: and when that glory reaches its climax, when God the Ever-Glorious is most glorious, that greatest glory is in Christ. Oh, this wondrous Word of God—the very climax of the Godhead—the gathering up of every blessed attribute in all its infinity of glory! You shall find all this in the person of the God-man, Christ Jesus.

representation of his essence Whatever God is, Christ is. The very likeness of God, the very Godhead of Godhead, the very Deity of Deity, is in Christ Jesus.

Dr. John Owen, who loves to explain the spiritual meaning in the Letter to the Hebrews by the types in the Old Testament, explains the brightness of the Father’s glory by a reference to the Shekinah over the mercy seat, which was the only visible token of the presence of God there. An extraordinary brightness is said to have shone forth from between the cherubim. Now, Christ is God manifesting Himself in His brightness. But, on his forehead, the high priest wore a golden plate, upon which was deeply engraved, in Hebrew letters, the inscription, “Holiness to [or of] Yahweh.” Dr. Owen thinks there is   p 10  a reference, in this “representation of his essence”—this cut-out inscription of God, as it were—to that which was on the forehead of the high priest, and which represented the glorious wholeness or holiness of Yahweh, which is His great glory.

You see how glorious was His original—the “representation” of His Father’s person. How lowly did He become to purge away our sins, and that by Himself, too, using His own body to be the means, by His sufferings, of taking away our guilt. Not by proxy did He serve us, but by Himself. Oh, this is wondrous love!

sustaining all things by the word of power Just think of it. This great world of ours is upheld by Christ’s word. If He did not speak it into continued existence, it would go back into the nothingness from which it sprung. There exists not a being who is independent of the Mediator, save only the ever-blessed Father and the Spirit. “In him all things are held together” (Col 1:17), that is, continue to hold together. Just as the foundations uphold a house, so does Jesus Christ “sustain all things by the word of his power.”

Only think of it; those innumerable worlds of light that make unbounded space to look as though it were sprinkled over with golden dust, would all die out, like so many expiring sparks, and cease to be, if the Christ who died on Calvary did not will that they should continue to exist. Surely, if Christ upholds all things He can uphold me. If the word of His power upholds earth and heaven, surely, that same word can uphold you, poor trembling heart, if you will trust him.

he had made purification for sins There was never such a task as that since time began. The old fable speaks of the Augean stables, foul enough to have poisoned a nation, which Hercules cleansed—but our sins were fouler than that. Dunghills are sweet compared with these abominations; what a degrading task it seems for Christ to undertake—the purging of our sins! The sweepers of the streets, the scullions of   p 11  the kitchen, the cleansers of the sewers, have honorable work compared with this task of purging sin. Yet the holy Christ, incapable of sin, stooped to purge our sins. I want you to meditate upon that wondrous work, and to remember that He did it before He went back to heaven. Is it not a wonderful thing that Christ purged our sins even before we had committed them? There they stood, before the sight of God, as already existent in all their hideousness. But Christ came and purged them. This, surely, ought to make us sing the song of songs. Before I sinned, He purged my sins away; singular and strange as it is, yet it is so.

he sat down There is an allusion here, no doubt, to the high priest who, on the great day of atonement, when the sacrifice had been offered, presented himself before God. Now Christ, our great High Priest, having, once for all, offered Himself as the sacrifice for sin, has now gone into the most holy place, and there He sits on the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Notice that this implies rest. When the high priest went within the veil, he did not sit down. He stood, with holy trembling, bearing the sacrificial blood, before the blazing mercy seat. But our Savior now sits at His Father’s right hand. The high priest of old had not finished his work; the next year, another atoning sacrifice would be needed. But our Lord has completed His atonement, and now, “there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Heb 10:26), for there no longer remains sin to be purged. “But this one, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, from now on waiting until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy” (Heb 10:12–14). There He sits, and I am sure He would not be sitting if He had not finished the salvation of His people.

at the right hand of the Majesty Notice that Christ sits in the place of honor. Of course, we are talking figuratively now, and you must not interpret this literally. Jesus sits on the   p 12  right hand of his Father; He dwells in the highest conceivable honor and dignity. All the angels worship Him, and all the blood-washed host adore Him day without night. The Father delights to honor Him.

Not only does Jesus sit in the place of honor, but He occupies the place of safety. None can hurt Him now; none can stay His purposes or defeat His will. He is at the powerful right hand of God. In heaven above, and on the earth beneath, and in the waters under the earth, and on every star, He is supreme Lord and Master. They that will not yield to Him shall be broken with a rod of iron; He shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. So His cause is safe; His kingdom is secure, for He is at the right hand of power.

Christ at the right hand of God signifies the eternal certainty of His reward. It is not possible that He should be robbed of the purchase of His blood. Christ will have what He bought with His own blood, especially as He lives again to claim His purchase. He shall never be a defeated and disappointed Savior. He “loved the church, and gave himself for her” (Eph 5:25); He has redeemed His loved ones from among men, and He shall have all those whom He has purchased.

4 better than the angels They are servants, but they are not sons; they are created, but they are not begotten. You see what he says to the Son—“I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son.”

Application

A Call to Believers to Trust in Jesus

Let every believer, if he wants to see his sins, stand on tiptoe, and look up. Will he see them there? No. If he looks down, will he see them there? No. If he looks around, will he see them there? No. If he looks within, will he see them there? No. Where shall he look, then? Where he likes, for he will never see them again, according to that ancient promise, “ ‘In those days and at that time,’ declares Yahweh,   p 13  ‘the guilt of Israel will be sought, but there is none, and the sins of Judah, but they will not be found, for I will forgive those I left behind’ ” (Jer 50:20). Shall I tell you where your sins are? Christ purged them, and God said, “I will cast all their sins behind my back.” Where is that? All things are before God. I do not know where behind God’s back can be. It is nowhere, for God is everywhere present, seeing everything. So that is where my sins have gone. I speak with the utmost reverence when I say that they have gone where Yahweh himself can never see them. Christ has so purged them that they have ceased to be. The Messiah came to finish transgression and to make an end of sin, and He has done it.

Believer, if He has made an end of it, then there is an end to it, and what more can there be of it? Here is a blessed text for you; I love to meditate on it often when I am alone: “As far as east is from west, so he has removed far from us the guilt of our transgressions” (Psa 103:12). This He did on Calvary’s cross; there effectually, finally, totally, completely, eternally, He purged all His people from their sin by taking it upon Himself, bearing all its dreadful consequences, canceling and blotting it out, casting it into the depths of the sea, and putting it away forever. It was indeed amazing love that made Him stoop to this purgation, this expiation, this atonement for sin; but, because He was who and what He was, he did it thoroughly, perfectly. He said, “It is finished,” and I believe Him. I do not—I cannot—for a moment admit that there is anything to be done by us to complete that work, or anything required of us to make the annihilation of our sins complete. Those for whom Christ died are cleansed from all their guilt, and they may go their way in peace. He was made a curse for us, and there is nothing but blessing left for us to enjoy.

A Call to Sinners to Trust in Jesus

It does seem to me that there is no proof of people’s natural blindness that is so conclusive as this: that they will not go and trust in Jesus. O sinners, if sin had left you sane in heart, you would come at once, and fall down at His feet! There is all power laid up in Jesus, and there is all the Father’s love concentrated in Jesus, so come and trust Him. If you will but trust Him, you will prove that He has given Himself for you. That simple trust is the secret mark that   p 14  distinguishes His people from all others. “My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). To those who rejected Him when He was upon the earth, our Lord said, “You do not believe, because you are not of my sheep” (John 10:26). O poor souls, do you mean forever to wear the damning mark of unbelief? If you die with that brand upon your soul, you will be lost forever. May you have, instead, that blessed mark of faith which is the token of the Lord’s people! May you even now hang out the scarlet line as Rahab hung it out of her window—the scarlet line of confidence in the crimson blood of Jesus! And while Jericho falls—while all the earth shall crumble in one common ruin—your house, though built upon the wall, shall stand securely, and not one who is within its shelter shall be touched by the devouring sword, for all who are in Christ are in everlasting safety. How can they be otherwise, since He has purged their sins? May God give to every one of you a part and lot among this blessed company, for His dear name’s sake!

 Spurgeon, C. (2014). Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews. (E. Ritzema & J. Strong, Eds.) (pp. 6–14). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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