Hebrews Session 3 – 1:1-4

Christ is Superior

You might be thinking at this point, “Well this guy is taking a long time getting past the first 4 verses!”  I agree,  so I thought it would be good to confirm the good news – these four verses are power-packed and require careful, extensive consideration.  Just think, these verses express the full depth of Christ’s nature, both divine and human –  and they also completely establish the message and content that is going to be covered in the book.  There is actually no way we can fully cover this content in these brief studies, but this is a great way to get started, so be sure to give due time to God and His Word as you work through Hebrews!

No Other Name
Peter had it right when preaching in Acts 4 – There is “no other name“, no other person stands as His equal, none can claim to have accomplished what He did, no one can offer mankind the gift of eternal life like He did!  Only Jesus can rescue us from our sin and raise us up to Redemption and Glory.  The world surrounds us with false messages of satisfaction, places of shallow refuge, promises of a secure future.  Yet without Christ, we have no hope – we are wandering in darkness (Eph 2:1-10), succumbing to the hazards and failures of sin, constantly reminded that we have no hope of deliverance.

Jesus is the complete answer!  He is the Son of God, the Second Person of the one True God, and He has demonstrated the faithful compassion and provision of God in bringing redemption to completion.  The writer of Hebrews begins His masterpiece with an extended declarative sentence (the 4 verses are one complete sentence) extolling the multiple proofs and confidences we have in God’s provision through His Son.  There is genuine excitement in knowing the many facets of Jesus Christ’s character and credentials.

We may not be facing persecution by Nero’s soldiers and skeptical Judaizers, but we are harassed daily by a world convinced that it must destroy our faith.  We must remain faithful to our faith, and standing alongside our marvelous Savior makes that a more realistic challenge .

A Complete Revelation

What we know –we know that God has incrementally revealed His truth in the past in various ways; now we also know that He has provided a completed revelation in His Son Jesus Christ

Heb 1:1-4 introduces us to the Lord Jesus Christ!
Who is He?  Why is He qualified?  Why should we listen?

take notesTake some time now to answer those three questions from 1:1-4 – Be sure to write your thoughts in your Bible Study Journal!

We know God has revealed His truth progressively in the Past in various ways – dreams & visions, prophets.   The Hebrews writer presents Jesus Christ as the final and greatest revelation that God has given mankind. God’s revelation in His Son is superior to all other revelations that He has given in at least two ways.

First, it supersedes all other revelation from God:  through angels, the Mosaic Law, through the prophets, and through the rituals of the Old Covenant. When Jesus Christ came to reveal God, He brought revelation that fulfilled and superseded what had preceded Him – all that was before was “about” God, Christ’s revelation was God Himself.

Second, God’s revelation in His Son is sufficient to meet every basic human need. God spoke directly through His Son, so there was no need for other sources of revelation. As the writer elaborates later in the book, Christ established a New Covenant so there was no longer need for any other mediator with God (a priest) . And God exalted His Son to His right hand, so man’s need to search for a righteous ruler no longer exists.

  • We know God has revealed His truth in the Past in various ways, but now (with the First Advent) He has revealed complete and final truth in His Son.
  • He provided complete purification for sin – the OT Day of Atonement and the High Priest sprinkling the blod on the Mercy seat in the Holy of Holies is an important background to the finished word of Christ on the Cross.
  • Read for more insight:  2 Pet. 1:9; Tit. 2:11-14; 2 Cor. 5:21
  • With Redemption and Revelation completed, He sat down
    • He is now seated at God’s right hand, in the True Tabernacle in heaven, ministering as our Advocate
    • Rom. 8:34; 1 Jn. 2:1-2
    • At the Second Coming, after the Tribulation, He will establish the promised Millennial Kingdom and sit on David’s throne in Jerusalem

take notesRead for more insight:  Eph. 4:10; Phil. 2:9; Lu. 22:66

  • Jesus Christ alone brings to mankind the full revelation of God, and He alone enables us to enter in the very presence of God
  • The theme of Hebrews – Christ is Better
    • A major statement that carries the book’s theme & argument forward

Compare Heb. 2:17; 5:9-10; 10:36; 12:11   take notes

  • Christ alone brings to mankind the full revelation of God, and He alone enables us to enter into the very presence of God
    • A “more excellent name” – Since earliest interaction with Abraham, God has had deep passion for His name – Exo 3:15

Some additional thoughts…
Jesus Christ is completely God and completely man – the “hypostatic union” is an important theological term describing Christ’s God-Man nature

  • Col 2:9, in Him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily
  • Phil 2:5-9, the mind of Christ: fully God but chose to be a servant, obedient to death on the Cross
  • John 5-7, extended passages on Jesus’ relationship with His Father

Practical Points for Digging Deep in the Word
Stay in the Word is dedicated to encouraging all of us to dig deeply in the Bible.  We’re always working on getting better at studying God’s Word.  Here’s a Bible Study Formula for you to use in order to be a “Psalm 1 Christian” growing deep roots(R) in God’s Word:        (3T*3M)J=R

3T:   Here are three Types of time we should be in the habit of spending in God’s Word:

  • Devotional Time –  “Quiet Time”, meditation, prayer
  • Read Through – front to back, maybe chronological, no rush – when you’re done, start over!
  • Bible Study –  pen (or computer) in hand, noting what you learn about a passage

3M:   Here are three Methods for effective Bible study – we will occasionally spend time thinking through each of these.

  • Observation – noting the plain facts of what is written
  • Interpretation –  what God and the human author intended us to understand from what is written
  • Application – take what we see and begin to understand how it needs to impact our life

J:   One essential tool – always keep your Bible Study Journal handy (written or computer).

take notesLet’s start here… Read Heb 1:1-4 a few times (include 1 or 2 other translations) and note in your Bible Study Journal the key features about this passage.

What to look for: Punctuation, sentence, paragraph; Is it written in 1st, 2nd or 3rd person?  Look for words that are strategic, unusual, doctrinal; Is there logic or enumeration (first this then…); Note major points or words.

Heb. 1:1-4 is one long sentence, written in very “high” Greek, an excellent summary statement by the writer of what he is going to deliver in the rest of the document.  In one phrase, the theme of Hebrews could be stated as  “Christ is Superior” – supreme, more excellent, greater, higher, better.

    • Look at how these other Hebrews passages carry that theme – 6:9; 7:7, 19, 22; 8:6; 9:23; 10:34;11:16, 35, 40; 12:24
    • The Person of Jesus Christ – Who He is, What He has accomplished – sets Christianity apart from all of the world’s religions!

Heb 1:1 – A Preliminary Revelation
From the earliest times of God developing a relationship with man, He has been revealing truth about Himself.  Different methods of revelation to many different people, starting with Adam, Abraham and Moses, and continuing on through the prophets  to Christ Himself, and then the Apostles.

Heb 1:2 – A Final Revelation
In these last days, a “code phrase” in the Bible that relates to the plans God has revealed for the conclusion of time as we know it before entering our future in eternity.  The revelation we have of God and His plans in Christ prepare us for those last days.

Heb 1:2-4 – A Complete Revelation
Christ is described in 7 ways as the complete and perfect revelation of God:
take notesFor each of these topics, look up the additional verses and make notes in your Journal about how the verse supports Christ being God’s perfect revelation.

  1. Heir of all things
    1. Inheritance – Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 2:5-9
    2. Joint-heirs: that’s us! We will “reign with Christ” through eternity – Rom 4:13 (Heb 11:7); 8:16-17; Gal 3:29; 4:7
  2. Creator
    1. Jn. 1:3; Col 1:16 – In the beginning was the Word
    2. God’s Creation Agent – Jesus Christ, the second person of the Godhead, spoke the worlds into existence
    3. Psa 33;  Rom 11:36 
  3. Radiance of God’s Glory
    1. The Glory of God – First encountered in Exodus
      1. Exo 3 – the Burning Bush
      2. Then look at these examples – Exo 16, 19, 24, 33;
    2. Deut 5 – hide your face Moses!
    3. Jesus is Unfiltered Glory, the actual, direct source
      1. Compare this to a Lighthouse light
    4. 17:1-2; John 1:14
    5. Think about John’s response in Rev 1 – Holy, Holy, Holy!
  4. Exact Representation of God’s Nature
    1. A unique Greek word, “character” – A perfect image of the original
    2. Jesus and God are One essence, the same person – 2 Cor 4:4
    3. Jn 14:9 – have I been so long with you…
    4. Col 2:9 – He is completely God
    5. Eph 3:19 – that His fullness dwells in us!
  5. Upholds Creation
    1.  Col 1:17 – What God starts, He sustains
    2. Not just bearing a load – He provides cohesion, actually sustains, carries all the processes of creation forward
    3. He is moving our lives and our world, our universe to a complete consummation according to God’s sovereign purpose
    4. He holds us in the small of His hand – no one…
  6. Purification for sin
    1. Removal, cleansing, not just a cover – A complete remedy for sin, not just a band-aid
    2. 2 Pet. 1:9;  Titus 2:11-14; 2 Cor 5:21
    3. 10:10, 14 – Day of Atonement – terms like Atonement, Propitiation are covered later in the book
  7. He Sat Down
    1. The Savior’s work to provide a way of salvation is completed
    2. Eph 4:10; Phil. 2:9; Luke 22:69
    3. Christ is currently seated at God’s right hand – Today He functions as our Advocate – Rom 8:34; 1 Jn 2:1-2

take notes
Study Questions…

1. Who wrote the book of Hebrews?

2. When might Hebrews have been written?

3. One group the book of Hebrews was written to was Jewish believers. What was the danger they were facing?

4. What did the Holy Spirit want to show the unconvinced Jews–the third group of people Hebrews was written to?

5. What is the theme of Hebrews?

6. How did God establish a relationship with the nation of Israel when physical nearness to Him was not possible for the people?

7. Why was the covenant that Christ mediated better than the old one?

8. Why was it difficult for many of the Jewish people to accept the New Covenant as superior to the old one?

9. What is a good summary of the book of Hebrews (Heb. 8:1)?

10. What is the difference between the religions of man and Christianity?

11. What are some of the different ways in which God communicated to believers during Old Testament times?

12. Why is the Old Testament considered to be progressive revelation?

13. Describe the difference between a prophet and a priest.

14. What does the phrase “in these last days” refer to in Hebrews 1:2?