Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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HEBREWS - Chapter 1

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Hebrews 1

Supplemental Commentary:


1.  A Superior Mediator  1, 1 -- 4, 13

1, 1-14:  Christ Superior to the Angels.  Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant, is as Son of God superior to the angels and to Moses, the mediators of the Old Covenant.    1.  Sundry times and divers manners: the revelation through the prophets while fragmentary, was nevertheless extensive in content and varied in form.  The same God who spoke through the prophets, now speaks finally through His Son.  The continuity and progressive character of revelation are implied.    2.  Last of all in these days: (Greek: "At the end of these days.")  The phrase indicates the Messianic age, and implies that the revelation through the Son is superior and final.  Appointed heir of all things: Christ was appointed heir of all things according to His human nature, according to His divine nature He already possessed all things.  By whom also He made the world: cf. John 1, 3; the Word is the Creator of the world.

3.  The brightness of His glory: As the rays of light stream forth from the sun, so the Son is "Light of Light."  The image of His substance: i.e., as the imprint made by a seal.  Both figures attempt to describe the Son of God.  Upholding all things: the Son keeps all things in existence by His divine power.  Effected man's purgation from sins: Christ through His human nature redeemed mankind.  Taken his seat: Christ finished satisfactorily the work undertaken in His human nature, and returned with His human nature to heaven.  At the right hand denotes dignity and not place.  It had been foretold that the Messias would sit at God's right hand (Ps. 109, 1).    4.  Having become: i.e., in His human nature at the moment of His Incarnation.  Some Greek Fathers interpret having become as "having been shown to be," and refer the expression to the glorification of Christ through His Resurrection and Ascension.  Has inherited, as man.  A more excellent name: i.e., that of Son of God.  According to His divine nature, He possessed this name from eternity, and as man, He received it from the first moment of His Incarnation.  It was due Him by reason of His origin.  The name of Son of God is far superior to that of angels (messengers).

5-14:  Five arguments based on seven texts from the Old Testament (Septuagint) follow, to prove the superiority of the Son over the angels.  The Old Law was given to Moses through the angels (Deut. 33, 2; Acts 7, 53; Gal. 3, 19); the New Law was given through Christ, who was God's own Son.

5.  The first argument is based on the name "Son."  To no angel had God ever given the name of son; but of the Messias to come He had said "Thou art my son, I this day have begotten thee (Ps. 2, 7).  Some of the Fathers interpret these words of the eternal generation, while others take them as referring to the Incarnation.  St. Paul (Acts 13, 33) takes them apparently of the Resurrection.  A second proof based on the name of son is taken from 2 Kgs. 7, 14: I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son, words which in their literal sense refer to Solomon, and in their typical sense to the Messias of whom Solomon was a type.

6.  The second argument that Christ is superior to the angels is based on God's command that the angels worship the Messias (Ps. 96, 7; cf. also Deut. 32, 43 in Septuagint).  And again: if the "again" is taken with he says, it indicates simply another quotation, and the reference would be to the first introduction of the Son at the time of the Incarnation or Nativity.  If, however, the "again" is taken with he brings, the reference is to a second introduction of the Son at the Last Judgment.  Firstborn: some take the term here in its natural sense as referring to the Messianic office of the Word Incarnate in the sense of Ps. 88, 28, where God says of the Messias to come, "I will make him my firstborn, high above the kings of the earth."  In this latter case "firstborn" is equivalent to "heir."

7-9.  The third argument, showing Christ's superiority over the angels, is the fact that the angels are only servants, likened to the winds and lightning (Ps. 103, 4) which God uses as His agents; whereas of the Son it is said that He is an anointed ruler, who Himself is called God (Ps. 44, 7 f).

10-12.  The fourth argument is that Christ is the Creator, who is beyond all time and change.  St. Paul here applies the words to Christ which in Ps. 101, 26-28, are applied to God, indicating thereby that Christ is God.

13 f.  The fifth argument, drawn from Ps. 109, 1, is that Christ shares the throne of God.  The angels are but ministering spirits.

Confraternity Bible:

Christ Superior to the Angels  1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 last of all in these days has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world, 3 who, being the brightness of his glory and the image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, has effected man's purgation from sin and taken his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4* having become so much superior to the angels as he has inherited a more excellent name than they.  5* For to which of the angels has he ever said,
"Thou art my son, I this day have begotten thee"?
and again,
"I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son"? 
6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, "And let all the angels of God adore him."  7* And of the angels indeed he says,
"He makes his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire." 
8* But of the Son,
"Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, and a sceptre of equity is the sceptre of thy kingdom. 

9* Thou hast loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore God, thy God, has anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." 
10* And,
"Thou in the beginning, O Lord, didst found the earth, and the heavens are works of thy hands. 

11* They shall perish, but thou shalt continue;

And they shall all grow old as does a garment, 12* and as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed. 

But thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail."
13* Now to which of the angels has he ever said,
"Sit at my right hand, until I make thy enemies the footstool of thy feet"? 
14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent for service, for the sake of those who shall inherit salvation?


4: Having become: or, "showing himself to be."  The humanity of Christ was exalted in glory far above the angels, because He alone was truly the Son.

5: Ps. 2, 7; 2 Kgs. 7, 14.

7: Ps. 103, 4.

8-9: Ps. 44, 7-8.

10-12: Ps. 101, 26-28.

13: Ps. 109, 1.