Hebrews Chapter One: An Exposition

Verse 1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets…

At sundry times and in divers manners: Each person is different. Their make-up, characteristics, mannerisms, the way they express themselves, their education, etc., varies. No one is exactly the same. God spoke “at sundry times” (literally, in many portions) and “in divers manners” (literally, in many ways). For example, Amos did not prophesy with the eloquence of Isaiah. The same principle is true when the Lord speaks to you through the Scriptures. The revelation comes to you in the way you can understand it best. Someone else may receive the same revelation through the same scripture, but it is received according to his own uniqueness. And two people each expressing the same concept will express it differently, but the same picture is presented. This means that when God speaks through a person it is God and the person working together.

God…spake…unto the fathers by the prophets: “By the prophets” is literally in the prophets. God spake “in” them and “through” them. The prophets were channels for the Word of God.

Verse 2 Has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds…

Has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son: What is written concerning “the Son” must also have a fulfillment in the prophetic ministry of the Body of Christ. Understanding this we realize there have been three major time periods of God speaking to His people: (1) the Old Testament when He spoke to the fathers through the prophets, (2) the days of the Gospels when He spoke through Jesus Christ, (3) and these days when He is speaking through the Body of Christ. And the Body of Christ has not yet reached its maturity, so we have only seen a foreshadowing of its ministry to come.

Whom He has appointed heir of all things: This appointment came not because of what Christ was before His incarnation. He obtained it as a human being anointed of the Holy Spirit. It is important to also understand that everything Jesus Christ obtained as the Son of man was also obtained for the Body of Christ. The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. Romans 8:16,17.

By whom He also made the worlds: This is not speaking of other planets and galaxies. The word “worlds” in the Greek is aion and literally means “ages.” Jesus Christ created the way for the Body of Christ to come unto the fullness of God. The Body of Christ passes through many “ages” or “spiritual worlds” in their journey. Paul refers to this process of change as going from “glory to glory” (II Corinthians 3:18). Jesus Christ was our forerunner (Hebrews 6:20). He blazed the trail for us, creating our passage from glory to glory, for it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory (Hebrews 2:10).

The main emphasis in these first two verses is that God is speaking to us, which is the way that He reveals Himself. Therefore, our knowledge of the Lord is determined by our ability to hear His Word. This ability of spiritual hearing is not something we have inherent within us. God must create the hearing ear. The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord has made even both of them. Proverbs 20:12. Neither does it take place at the moment of salvation. The capacity to hear the Word develops progressively as we grow spiritually. Spiritual hearing is not a luxury; it is vitally important. Man does not live by bread only, but by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord does man live. Deuteronomy 8:3.

Verse 3 Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the Word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high…

Who being the brightness of His glory: The brightness of the Glory of the Lord is an outshining of the presence of God. When Jesus went up on the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John saw the brightness of His Glory, for His face did shine as the sun (Matthew 17:1,2).

The Glory was not always visibly manifested on Jesus, but it was always there. The Greek word for “brightness” is apaugasma, and is literally “effulgence,” which means an “outraying” or “outshining.” The Glory of God was always outraying or outshining from Jesus Christ, but it was seen only by revelation by those whose hearts were open to Him. Not everyone was aware of it. The effulgence of His Glory is also upon the Body of Christ, and it is only seen by revelation, too. The day will come, though, when it will be manifested to all. (See Romans 8:19; Revelation 21:3,9,10, 23.)

Jesus is called the Light of the world (John 1:4,5,9), because the Glory of God’s presence out-rays from Him. Then in Matthew 5:14 Jesus said to His disciples, You are the light of the world. The apostle Paul also confirms that this ministry of the effulgence of His Glory continues through the Body of Christ. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. II Corinthians 4:6,7.

The express image of His person: More literally this would read: the express image of His substance. The Greek word for “person” is hupostasis, which literally means “essence” or “substance.” The same word is used in Hebrews 11:1: Faith is the substance of things hoped for.

To really see Jesus was to see the Father, which is the same thing as saying, “If you don’t see the Father in Jesus, then you don’t really see Jesus either.” That is what Jesus told Philip. Philip said unto Him, Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us. Jesus said unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He that has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, Show us the Father? John 14:8,9. Jesus was the express image of the substance of the Father. Yet without spiritual perception it was impossible to really see Jesus or to see the Father in Him. The Father in Him could only be seen by revelation. The same is true for the Body of Christ, for we shall show forth the express image of the Lord Jesus Christ. At this time, however, He is only seen by revelation. But the day of His appearing in His saints is at hand, and He will be glorified and admired in all them that believe (II Thessalonians 1:10). The manifestation of the sons of God will be a manifestation of the Son in the sons, and every eye will see Him (Revelation 1:7).

Upholding all things by the Word of His power: We have already seen in this verse that the brightness of the Glory of God which is upon the Lord Jesus Christ is also coming upon the Body of Christ, and they will show forth the express image of His substance. In like manner, the saints have a part in the ministry of Christ, which involves the upholding of all things by the Word of His power. The Word of His power “in time past” (verse 1) came through the prophets. During the days of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ the Word of power came through Him. That same Word will be ministered through the Body of Christ.

By Himself purged our sins: The Lord allows the Body of Christ to be involved in all aspects of His ministry with this one exception. The purification of our sins was done by Him alone. Paul testifies to this in II Corinthians 5:14, where he says, One died for all. Hebrews 10:12 says, He offered one sacrifice for sins for ever. That means that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ goes beyond just the forgiveness of sins. It is also the provision whereby we may be purged from the sin nature.

Sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: This phrase refers to the exaltation of Jesus Christ. God is Spirit, so He does not have a literal hand. And there isn’t a literal throne somewhere in the heavens where He sits. The right hand of the Majesty on high is the way of saying that Jesus Christ has received the very highest possible exaltation. And the Body of Christ is in the process of joining Him there. And [God] has raised us up together, and made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6. This is not a literal lifting up in the way that some describe a rapture. It is a rising up to a place of authority.

Verse 4 Being made so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

“Being made so much better” is more accurately translated from the Greek as “having become so much better.” As in the previous verse this is speaking of what Jesus Christ obtained as a man. All that He obtained by inheritance as the Son of man is also enjoyed by the many-membered Christ, for we are joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). He emptied Himself (Philippians 2:7 NASB), and as a man inherited a greater name than the angels. This opened the door for us to inherit a greater name than the angels, too. This inheritance, however, is not bestowed on us merely because we are Christians. It is bestowed upon those who have suffered with Him (Romans 8:17). If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him (II Timothy 2:12). “With Him” is the key phrase here.

Verse 5 For unto which of the angels said He at any time, You are My Son, this day have I begotten You? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son?

You are My Son, this day have I begotten You: God calling Jesus Christ “Son” does not refer to the pre-existence of Jesus. It speaks rather of a life that Jesus obtained as a human being. That life of sonship is prophesied in the second Psalm. The Lord has said unto Me, You are My Son; this day have I begotten You. Psalm 2:7. Then in Matthew 3:16-17 a voice from heaven identifies Jesus as the Son begotten of God. And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Jesus heard the voice, and John the Baptist probably heard it, but we do not know if anyone else did. We do know that very few knew that He was the Messiah, for He came unto His own, and His own received Him not (John 1:11). After His resurrection, though, His Sonship could not be denied. Paul said that His resurrection from the dead declared Him the Son of God with power (Romans 1:4). We must take this a little further and understand that the prophecy of Psalm 2:7, You are My Son, this day have I begotten You, has another fulfillment. Jesus is the firstborn Son of God. But there will also be a “son company,” for Romans 8:29 says that Jesus is the Firstborn among many brethren. There will be a people who share in the sonship of Jesus Christ, expanding the prophecy of Psalm 2:7, to include the many-membered Body of Christ.

I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son: For three and one-half years, Jesus was individually “the Son of God.” Christ was one person. After His resurrection and the out-pouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, Christ became a many-membered Body. For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. I Corinthians 12:12. Jesus is now the Head of the Body, the Church (Colossians 1:18). Therefore, the Son of God, once an individual, is now a company of sons. We must understand, though, that being a member in His “sonship” is not as simple as becoming a Christian. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Romans 8:14. The sons of God are those who are under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They are no longer a lord over themselves; their lives are directed by the Spirit of God. This narrows down the “son company” to a remnant compared to the Christian world as a whole.

Verse 6 And again, when He brings in the Firstbegotten into the world, He says, And let all the angels of God worship Him.

And again, when He brings in the Firstbegotten into the world: The word “again” gives evidence that this is not speaking of the first coming of Jesus. Neither is it speaking of a literal return as an individual. This verse is speaking of His parousia (literal: “presence”). The parousia has often been misinterpreted as His personal return. The parousia is a spiritual coming of the presence of the Lord in His elect. And again, when He brings in the Firstbegotten into the world is speaking of His spiritual coming to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all of them that believe (II Thessalonians 1:10).

The Greek word for “world” is iokoumene, and literally it means “the inhabited earth.” From Genesis 2:7 we learn that man was formed of the earth. We are the earth He is most interested in, not the planet earth. God’s purpose is to “inhabit the earth.” So, when the Word says, And again, when He brings in the Firstbegotten into the inhabited earth, it is speaking of His coming to be “glorified in His saints” (II Thessalonians 1:10). We see in Revelation 21:3 that His purpose will be accomplished. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.

Verse 7 And of the angels He says, Who makes His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire.

Of the angels He says: The Greek word for “angels” (aggelos) literally means “messengers,” and can refer to either angelic beings or ministers of God.

His ministers a flame of fire: Hebrews 12:29 says, Our God is a consuming fire. It is said of the two witnesses in the Book of Revelation that fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devours their enemies (Revelation 11:5). The Lord spoke to Jeremiah saying, I will make My words in your mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them (Jeremiah 5:14). For our God is a consuming fire! Hebrews 12:29. It isn’t literal fire that proceeds from the mouth of His ministers, but His presence. Their words are filled with the presence of God. This means that they will proclaim a fire-word that consumes and devours the enemies of God. Paul speaks of this ministry in his second epistle to the Thessalonians. And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe. II Thessalonians 1:7,8,10. Notice that this ministry of flaming fire takes place when He comes to be glorified in His saints. It is the Lord Jesus Christ in His many-membered Body speaking a fire-word.

Satan is an enemy of God, and he will get the judgment he deserves. However, there is another enemy which can overcome us easier than Satan, and the Word of fire must be directed toward it. Our most dangerous enemy is our flesh nature. Satan doesn’t bother many Christians because their flesh keeps them defeated. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:5-8.

God’s ministers are called “a flame of fire,” because they speak a fire-word that consumes the flesh nature. We are God’s wheat. And the chaff, our flesh nature, must be consumed. That is why John the Baptist prophesied, I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. Matthew 3:11-12. The ministry of the fire-word is the only route to coming under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Christians who are receiving ministry from the “flame of fire ministers” are being freed from the bondages of the flesh. Those who are not are still under the lordship of the carnal mind.

Verse 8 But unto the Son He says, Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom.

The words “throne,” “scepter,” and “Kingdom” are all indicative of the government of God. His government, and only His government, is righteous. Our national government is a democracy. A democracy is a government by the people and of the people. Most churches are ruled by the people, too. The pastor, deacons, Sunday School teachers, and every other office is voted on by the people, so most churches have a democratic government, which means they are ruled by the will of man. It is not so in the Kingdom of our Lord. In God’s government, there is only one Lord, and His rule is a rule of righteousness. Every other kingdom and government will eventually have to submit to His Kingdom, for His throne is forever and ever.

Verse 9 You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows.

You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity: The Greek word for “iniquity” is anomia, which literally means “lawlessness.” Scripturally anyone who is not subject to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is guilty of lawlessness. This is the most prevalent sin among Christians, and it ranks equally with the sin of idolatry among Judah and Israel in the Old Testament. Jesus Christ redeemed us with His blood. He owns us! He is our Lord! We are His possession! To accept Jesus Christ as Savior, and then to reject His Lordship by continuing to rule our own lives is a terrible sin. The Lord hates lawlessness, and He will bring judgment against it. Non-Christians are lawless, too. But Christians know better, so their sin is greater. Contrary to popular opinion, righteousness is not doing good works; it is being subject to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

God has anointed You with the oil of gladness: In commenting on this anointing, we will refer back to two Old Testament prophecies. The first is Psalm 133:1-2. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments. Aaron was the high priest of the new nation of Israel, so he typifies our High Priest, Jesus Christ. The precious ointment was poured upon the head of the high priest and ran down upon the skirts of his garments. The Lord Jesus is the Head of a many-membered Body, so the anointing oil running down upon the skirts of His garments means that the same anointing poured upon Jesus also comes down upon the Church. The fact that the beard is mentioned indicates that this is a special anointing that comes upon the Body of Christ in its maturity.

The second prophecy is Psalm 45:7-8. You love righteousness, and hate wickedness: therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows. All Your garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made You glad. Here we see the garments covering the Body of Christ issuing forth the sweet aromas of the attributes of Christ. His nature, the fruits of Spirit, has permeated the Body of Christ, and it exudes His fragrance. This infusion of His nature within the Body of Christ is that which has made Him glad.

Anointed You…above Your fellows: The anointing oil is poured upon the Head. Jesus being the Head is above His fellows, which is the Body of Christ. This concept is uniquely displayed by the golden lampstand in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle. It is made up of seven lamps; three on each side of the center lamp, which is taller than the others. The center lamp represents the Lord Jesus Christ and the other six (the number of man) represent the Body of Christ. The golden lampstand, of course, typifies the light of the Lord Jesus shining through the Christ-Body.

It is interesting that the Greek word for “fellows” (metochos) literally means “partakers, sharers, or partners.” Over and over again in this first chapter of Hebrews the members of the Body of Christ have been seen to be partakers in all that Jesus is and has.

Verse 10 And, You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of Your hands…

There is no question concerning the fact that the Lord laid the foundation of the earth. But since the Word is living (always has a present truth) and prophetic, it also has spiritual truths hidden within it. Two earths have been created by the Lord. The natural earth, of course, and a spiritual earth. Because the Body of Christ consists of people who were formed of the earth (Genesis 2:7), it can be considered a spiritual earth. It is the new earth that God said He would create (Revelation 21:1). The foundation of this spiritual earth is the ministry of Jesus Christ through the apostles and prophets. Now therefore you are…of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto an holy temple in the Lord. Ephesians 2:19-21.

Verses 11-12 They shall perish; but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment…
12 And as a vesture You shall fold them up, and they shall be changed: but You are the same, and Your years shall not fail.

Everything made of matter is perishing. People get older and they die. The earth and all it contains has this principle of perishing working in it. As a garment it grows old and deteriorates. But like a vesture the Lord shall fold them up and bring change. Futility shall be broken, and all creation will be delivered into the glorious liberty of the sons of God (Romans 8:19-21). But You are the same, and Your years shall not fail. The Lord is eternal. He first works His divine nature, His eternalness, in His sons and then that divine change brings deliverance to all of creation and the result is a new heaven and a new earth.

Verse 13 But to which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on My right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool?

All the provisions for the defeat of the Lord’s enemies are complete, so He is seen seated. It only remains for the Body of Christ to manifest His victories. God carries out the defeat of Satan by crushing him under the feet of the Body of Christ. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. Romans 16:20. The honor of executing the judgments and vengeance of God is given to His saints. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written: this honor have all His saints. Praise the Lord. Psalm 149:6-9.

And let’s not forget that archenemy of God, the carnal mind. I Corinthians 15:26 says that the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. And Romans 8:6 says that to be carnally minded is death. The destroying process of the carnal mind has already begun for many, for Paul says, Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). If we are under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, then His mind is being worked in us. But if we are maintaining lordship over our lives, then the death principle of the carnal mind is still active.

Verse 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

It is impossible to adequately express the importance of being under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Without His authority over us we have very little spiritual protection. We have no authority without being submissive to His authority, and authority is what counts in the realm of spirit. If we are under the covering of His Lordship, then we have an angelic host given to minister to us. But if we’re doing our own thing, we have no angelic protection, for the angels will not stay around the rebellious.

Copyright © 2005 by Henry DuBose