Ministry, Mission — June 2, 2022 at 12:45 am

The Prophets and the Son: Hebrews 1:1–2

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Elijah Was the Boldest of God's Prophets
Elijah Was the Boldest of God’s Prophets (Pixabay)

Before his death, Charles Hauser wrote a draft of a commentary on Hebrews, leaving the work for Kevin Bauder to complete. The following is an excerpt from that commentary. Some of the words are Bauder’s, but the argument is Hauser’s.

1God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
2in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. [NASB]

The book of Hebrews opens its exhortation by setting up a contrast. One side of this contrast is the revelation that God gave in the past. The other side is the revelation that has now come through Jesus Christ. Unlike the pagan gods of the Gentiles, the true and living God was not silent in the past. Indeed, God spoke on many occasions, so the mere fact that God spoke is not the focus of the contrast. Neither is the writer trying to establish the truth or falsehood of what God said, since what God said in the past was always true and never needed to be corrected.

The point of the contrast is emphasized by the words portions and ways. These are important terms. They are only used here in all the New Testament. The author puts them at the beginning of his sentence to emphasize them.

Both terms are compound words. The first, portions, joins the word for many with the word for parts, emphasizing that during the Old Testament God’s revelation arrived in many parts. No prophet had all of God’s revelation. Rather, each revelation was only a part of what God wanted people to know. The second term, ways, joins the word for many with the word for manner or way. God used many ways to communicate His truth during the Old Testament. Sometimes He spoke through visions or dreams. Other times He wrote in stone, spoke in an audible voice, or used some other mechanism.

Doxa SubscriptionIn the days of the Old Testament, God’s revelation arrived in many pieces and through many methods or modes. The author is certainly not suggesting that the partial nature of this revelation made it bad or false. On the contrary, it was true, as far as it went. Nevertheless, the prophets who communicated it were sinful men with limited understanding. Through them God provided only an incomplete revelation.

On the other hand, God has now spoken in the Son. That is the point of the contrast. The Son constitutes God’s final and complete revelation. He is the creator and heir of all things. He has unlimited knowledge and understanding. His person, deeds, and words express the final and fullest revelation that God intends to give His people.

Of course, the Son of whom the writer speaks is the Lord Jesus Christ. Behind his words are some difficult teachings. On the one hand, the Son is eternal God, equal with and of the same substance as the Father. On the other hand, the Son has come into the world as a human being. Beside His deity He has now added a complete (though sinless) human nature. From the perspective of His deity one can speak of the eternal Son; from the perspective of His humanity one can also speak of the incarnate Son.

When the writer states that the Son was “appointed heir of all things,” he is viewing the Son in His incarnation. The human Christ occupies an exalted position: He is heir of all things. Every possession of the Father now belongs to the incarnate Son. True, the full manifestation of this inheritance will occur in the future (Ps. 2:81 Cor. 15:25-27). Nevertheless, the inheritance is a rich one, and the declaration that the Son is heir of all things should bring joy to every believer—for believers, too, are joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17). Christians expect to inherit what Christ inherits. This expectation is part of the blessed hope with which all believers face the future.

The text also emphasizes that the Son is the one through whom God made the ages. At this point, the writer is viewing the Son in His eternal glory and dignity. Only one who is God could be outside the ages so as to create them. This phrase is a strong statement of the deity of the Son, and it agrees fully with other passages in the New Testament (Col. 1:16Jn. 1:3). The Son is the one who created time and everything in it.

In sum, this passage emphasizes three realities about Christ, who is the eternal and incarnate Son. First, as to His person, He is the Son. Second, as to His dignity and rank, He is heir of all things. Third, as to His work, He made the ages. The overall picture shows the Son as superior over every other person in the history of the human race. It particularly shows His superiority over those Old Testament prophets through whom God spoke at many times and in many ways.

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