Papyrus Amherst 3a, 3b – Morgan Library, Pap. Gr. 3 – private letter + Epistle to Hebrews 1,1.
This is a purely Jewish epistle written by a Jewish believer to other Jewish believers. It reveals how Christ is the fulfilment of the Law and the prophets and the change, in Christ, from the Old Covenant and its reliance on priests and Levitical rituals to the New Covenant and its reliance on Christ.
It teaches the Excellency of the Gospel compared with the Law and the supremacy of Christ over Moses.
Many believe that the epistle was authored by Paul but in all his epistles he claims authorship. In this epistle we do not read of its author’s name. What is a fact is that if not written by Paul it certainly reflects the Gospel according to Paul.
1 God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 Has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, who he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 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; 4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 5 For to which of the angels said he at any time, “You are my Son, this day I have begotten you“? And again, “I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” 6 And again, when he brings in the first begotten into the world, he says, “And let all the angels of God worship him.” 7 And of the angels he says, “Who makes his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.” 8 But to the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows.” 10 And, “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of your hands: 11 They will perish; but thou remain; and they all will grow old as a garment does; 12 And as a vesture you will fold them up, and they shall be changed: but you are the same, and your years shall not fail.” 13 But to which of the angels said he at any time, “Sit on my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool?” 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent along to minister for them who will be heirs of salvation?
Here the author establishes that God has been speaking to the world through many and different ways by the mouth of Prophets. However the time arose when He spoke through His Son.
The Son has been appointed the heir of all things. Thus all things that the Father has been passed on to the Son. The Greek translated as Worlds is αἰῶνας (Aionas), which means the Universe as well as the perpetuity of time. All things were created by the Son, the Word (John 1:1).
The Son is also declared to be incarnate deity. He is the exact image of God; (the Greek here is χαρακτὴρ Characteer), the perfect reflection of God, the embodiment of His person (The Greek here is ὑποστάσεως hypostaseous. The doctrine of the incarnation is known as the Hypostatic Union) (Colossians 2:8-9). He is also the brightness of His glory. When light shines brightly all things are clearly seen. Thus Christ stated that those that have seen Him have seen the Father.
Christ upholds all things by the word of His power. (The Greek translated “Word” is ῥήματι Rhemati which refers to that which is spoken). The Lord speaks and his word brings everything into being. He commands and it is done.
God speaks through His Son and so the authority of Christ is established.
Now he begins to establish the position of Christ in relation to all other messengers of God and every creature of God. Christ is better than the angels for His name is greater than theirs. The Angels are not addressed as sons. so the author begins to quote the scriptures that compare the person of the Son and that of the angels.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses would have us understand that Jesus is the Archangel Michael. However we see that the Son is never described as being an angel. None of the angels is considered to be the only begotten Son of God.
Angels must worship Him. The word worship is προσκυνησάτωσαν Proskynesatosan, which is the equivalent of the Hebrew תשתחוה tistahaweh. Both mean to bow down to and kiss, to worship.
Angels are referred to as ministering spirits, however the Son is declared to be God. He is also declared to be Eternal (Hebrews 7:3). He has always been and will always be He is the first and he is the last.
No angel has ever been told to sit at the right hand of God until his enemies are made His footstool, whereas the Son has. Angels are meant to serve the purposes of the Son and all those that are the heirs of Salvation.
The authority of the Son is indistinguishable from that of the Father, as is His position, for they are ONE! This oneness is not simply one of agreement but it is one of nature, essence.
Christ not only speaks through his teaching but he is the very embodiment of that teaching. The Hebrew Bible is called the Torah, which literally means teaching. Thus He is the living word of God. None of God’s messengers before Christ were such a complete package as Him.
Thus it is important to take heed to Christ’s words.