The Book of Hebrews – Introduction. The author of the Book of Hebrews is unknown. In the early church, it was believed to be written by Paul, but this notion was soon dismissed as being not Paul’s writing style at all.
Several names have been proposed, but it is possible that the evangelist Apollos was the author. He was, after all, “an eloquent man, mighty in the Scriptures” (the present-day Old Testament, then known as “the Scriptures”) (Act.18:24); a regular travel companion and fellow preacher of the Gospel with Paul (1Cor.3:5); and otherwise known as an apostle (1Cor.1:12; 3:4-6; Tit.3:13).
The epistle to the Hebrews was written approximately 63-67 AD and was addressed to a group of Jewish Christians who were under severe persecution. Some of them were even contemplating a return to Judaism, so the author wants to encourage and reassure them that their only hope of salvation lies with Jesus Christ. He wants to warn them against apostasy and the relaxation of their faith.
The author of the Book of Hebrews starts off by pointing to Jesus Christ as the final revelation of God’s grace. God has appointed Him as the eternal High Priest but also as the final Sacrifice who, by both His priestly service and His sacrificial blood, worked complete atonement and brought a final end to the temple service and the animal sacrifices of the Jewish religion. The fact that Jesus Christ, Himself the High Priest but simultaneously also the sacrifice, may not be ignored.
In a masterly way, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews draws on the Old Testament laws, sacrifices, rituals, temple service, priestly duties and more, to show how Jesus is the fulfillment of it all. Repeatedly, throughout the epistle, he shows the supremacy of Jesus over the angels, showing Him to be the “the author and finisher of our faith” (12:2).
In this article, I wish to expound on what the author of the epistle to the Hebrews said and explain some of the sources on which he drew in making his statements. My prayer is that it will serve to show more clearly the wonderful ways in which God worked to fulfil His goal, namely “…that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Eph.1:10)
Commentary on Hebrews 1:1-3
Heb.1:1-3: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 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.”
In this pericope, Jesus Christ is portrayed as God’s final revelation. In a few words, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews summarizes Jesus’ “history” – from when He was appointed Heir of all things until He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Hebrews.1:1 tells us that God spoke to the fathers (i.e. the patriarchs of the Old Testament dispensation) “in divers manners”, i.e. in various ways, through the prophets. Sometimes He spoke through His Spirit, in an audible voice, by dreams, by visions and sometimes by symbolic actions like those by Ezekiel (Eze.5) and Hosea (Hos.1). God wrote the Ten Commandments with His own finger (Ex.24:12).
Hebrews.1:2. In the fullness of time, however, God spoke to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, whom He had appointed “heir of all things”.
The Son, “by whom also he made the worlds” Yes, indeed!! Jesus is one of the three Persons in Whom the one God reveals Himself. In John.1:1-3 we read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (himself). :2 The same was in the beginning with God. :3 All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made. V.14: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”. We can also see that Jesus was indeed God Himself in texts like Isa.9:6; Rom.9:5; Heb.1:1-3; 1Joh.5:20.
Hebrews.1:3. Here we have a description of the divine and glorious excellence of Jesus Christ, being one with the Godhead. The same essence and attributes are also mentioned in Col.1:15, 17, 20.
Notably, He purged our sins “by Himself” – not like the priests of old. They did not sacrifice themselves, but animals. These animals and its blood pointed forward toward Jesus, the Lamb of God who was to come. And Jesus offered and sacrificed Himself in fulfillment of those sacrifices.
In Him, we see the power, goodness, and wisdom of the Father. He maintains all that He has created. Having purged our sins by His blood, He “sat down”, as King on His throne, having finished the earthly ministry to which He has been appointed. He is of equal power, position, authority and honour with God (John 1:1-5). See also Rom.11:25 and learn about The Holy Trinity.
This first pericope has shown us the pre-eminence of the Gospel above the Law, and how Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament and that He is the final High Priest. It has also shown us His divinity, power, and excellence.
In my next article, I discuss Hebrews 1:4-14. In that pericope, the author shows us the excellency of Jesus above that of the angels, and how He is superior to them.
Mind On Jesus