The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
Hebrews 1:3 (NIV)
Read: Hebrews 1:1 – 2:4
Consider: The writer of the book of Hebrews is unknown as the author does not identify themselves, nor are the recipients directly identified. This has led to there being speculation about the authorship over the centuries. We don’t need to worry about who authored the book, or who received it – the key is what can we learn from it.
It is clear that Hebrews was written to a group of Christians who have come from a Jewish background. The book repeatedly refers back to aspects of Judaism to confirm things like Christ is the Son of God (the promised Messiah), his death on the cross is a better sacrifice for sin than the animal sacrifice system and that Christ is a better high priest than anything envisaged under the Judaic Law. The book was probably written to encourage these Jewish believers to stand firm in their faith and to resist the temptation to return to their former beliefs.
Hebrews chapter 1 starts with the declaration: In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son (1:1). The author is speaking to Jews who have believed that Jesus is the promised Messiah and have put their trust in him. He reminds them that the OT prophecies point forward to their fulfilment in Jesus.
Look at what it says in Hebrews 1:3 – The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being. The word ‘radiance’ speaks of God’s brilliance or brightness, while ‘exact representation’ speaks of an exact copy (as in an image or carving). What is being said is that if you want to know what God is like, you only have to look at Jesus. Jesus is not a poor representation of what God is like, but exactly like Him.
Most of Hebrews 1 is taken up with quoting from the Old Testament to show that:
- Jesus is God’s Son (v5);
- Jesus is above the angels (v6);
- God’s Son reigns (v8-9);
- God’s Son is eternal (v10);
- God’s Son is all-powerful (v11).
Hebrews 1 relies heavily on the OT for its authority. The quotations from Scripture used come from Psalm 2:7; 2 Samuel 7:14; 1 Chronicles 17:13; Deuteronomy 32:43; Psalm 104:4; Psalm 45:6-7; Psalm 102:25-27 and Psalm 110:1. From this we can learn that we should be relying on the authority of and quoting from Scripture, rather than giving our own opinions on spiritual matters.
You may wonder why angels are mentioned so often in this passage. This is because at the time of writing Hebrews there was false teaching coming into the church that taught angels were to be worshipped and the way to seek God help was by praying to angels. Hebrews counters this teaching by showing that Jesus is above the angels in terms of his Sonship, his name and his authority. Hebrews 1 ends with these words: Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation (1:14).
There is a clear warning issued in Hebrews 2:1 – We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. This warning applies equally today. As Christians we need to take care not to be drawn into false teaching that seeks to water down essentials of our faith; such as the divinity and humanity of Jesus, man’s need of forgiveness, the effectiveness of Christ’s death on the cross, and the reality of the resurrection.
Pray: Father, may we base our beliefs and how we live only on the authority of Scripture. Keep us from errors that can subtly draw us in and pull us away from you. Amen