Hebrews 1:3

Friday, 3 August 2018

…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 at the right hand of the Majesty on high, Hebrews 1:3

The words here speak of Christ Jesus. First, it says of Him, “who being.” The word ōn, or “being,” speaks of His absolute being. It is in the present tense, speaking of the timeless nature of what will be conveyed. Christ, being now spoken about in relation to God (and in the absolute sense and in a timeless manner), is said to be “the brightness of His glory.” The word is only used here in the Bible. It bears a suffix which intensifies the word “shine.” Thus it is someone who literally blazes forth in radiance. This speaks of the eternal radiance of Christ who shines forth the refulgent glory of the Godhead. This shining glory of God breaks through all darkness. This is both literal and spiritual. In a literal demonstration of this, we have the passage of the transfiguration which gives a glimpse of His glory. In a spiritual sense, we have numerous references in the writings of the apostles, such as 2 Corinthians 4:6 –

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

The glory of God radiates through Christ who is also described as “the express image of His person.” Again, another word unique in Scripture is used to convey the thought, charaktér. One can see where the word “character” we now use is derived from. In the Greek, it signifies an engraving, and thus an exact impression or likeness. The original word signified the tool used for engraving. Eventually, it specifically referred to “a die.” The die would be used to impress an image which then conveyed the reality behind the image.

This express image is of “His person.” This is speaking of God, and uses another rare word to describe Him, hupostasis. It speaks of an entitlement to someone; that which is guaranteed under a particular agreement. The thought here being conveyed is that Christ is in entitlement to the glory of the Godhead; to convey it and reveal it in the creation. He is the link between the unseen God and His creation. He is how God reveals Himself to us. Thus, the glory of God – both His brightness and His essential being – is expressed in the Person of Jesus Christ. The Godhead is in agreement that Christ is the means by which His glory is so revealed. But there is yet more…

We are next told that Jesus Christ is “upholding all things by the word of His power.” Elsewhere, Jesus is clearly shown to be the Creator (e.g. John 1:1-3 & Colossians 1:16). He is here spoken of as the Sustainer. It is a thought similar to Colossians 1:17 which says, “…in Him all things subsist” (Darby). Jesus is not only the means by which God created, but He is the means by which all things are sustained. He is how all things are upheld and how they hold together. Without Him there would be no continuance of the creation.

God created by His spoken word. This is seen in Genesis 1. It is expressed also in Psalm 33:9 which says –

“For He spoke, and it was done;
He commanded, and it stood fast.”

It is this same Word which continues to uphold that which was created. The word translated as “word” is rhéma. It is a spoken word made by the living voice; an utterance. Christ is the Word, and He both creates and sustains “by the word of His power.” Logically, if the universe was created by Christ, and the universe is sustained by Christ, then He is the omnipotent God. No thing, from the movement of the smallest particle, to the intense boiling heat of ten billion stars, exists or works apart from the sustaining and energetic power of Christ. But there is more…

The author has brought us from God, speaking through His Son, to the understanding that His Son is both the Creator and Sustainer. But He is also our Redeemer. This is seen with the words, “when He had by Himself purged our sins.” The same God who set all things in motion, and who continues to work in the sustaining efforts of the universe, also purged our sins through His own work. It was not through something (or someone) else in creation; but Christ Himself is the agent of our purification.

One must ask, “Why is this placed here in the author’s discourse on the nature of Christ?” The answer shouts back that it is God Himself, through Christ, who alone purifies, sanctifies, and makes holy. Whatever the value of man is, that value stands as the greatest reason for the creation itself. It is not merely that man is a part of creation, but that he is the point of creation. God determined to create, not because He had a need in Himself for the creation, but out of an act of love, He created in order to share His glory with His creatures. Everything that is made was with this in view. And so in order to have that sharing come about, and knowing that man would fall, God chose (even before creating, see Revelation 13:8) to accept what would come about after the fall, which is redemption through the sacrifice of Christ.

It is Christ – the Creator, Sustainer, and Purifier – who then “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” The “Majesty” here is God the Father. Christ is said to have “sat down,” thus ceasing from His now accomplished work of purification. The position of His seating is at the Majesty’s “right hand.” This is not a literal, tangible position, but rather a position of authority and power. God doesn’t have parts, and so to express meaning for us to understand, anthropomorphic terms are used. The “right hand” is this symbolic position of power and authority within the Godhead. As Vincent’s Word Studies states, “The verb denotes a solemn, formal act; the assumption of a position of dignity and authority.” He sat down, thus resting from His labors, and with the full power, authority, and dignity of the Godhead being worked through Him.

Life application: Jesus Christ is God. Nothing could be more clearly understood from a right interpretation of Scripture. God did not use a mere part or person in His creation to purify His people. Rather, He took the role upon Himself, uniting with His creation in the Person of Jesus Christ. To state that Jesus Christ is a created being is the highest blasphemy of all. It is a denial of the Son which is explained by John as antichrist –

“Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” 1 John 2:22, 23

If you cannot come to the confession of faith that Jesus Christ is Lord (meaning God), you will be condemned when He comes for judgment. Believe and be forgiven.

Lord God, it is hard to imagine the value of man. We are only a part of Your creation, and we are the part which has brought rebellion, hatred, and death to it. And yet, You were willing to come and redeem us from our sins in the Person of Jesus. What is worth such a high cost? What is man that You take notice of Him? Help us, Lord God, to honor You and glorify You for the high cost of Calvary’s cross, and the full redemption we have through the giving of Jesus. Amen.

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