“Who is God’s Son?” Hebrews 1:1-3
Perhaps the most important question that can ever be asked and answered is: “Who is Jesus Christ?” Is Jesus the eternal Son of God, or is He simply a good teacher? Is He God incarnate in human flesh, or simply a man about whom a myth has grown so that some declare His divinity? The Bible is unequivocal about its answer to these questions. Jesus is God incarnate in human flesh. We find such a declaration of this fact in the opening paragraph of the book of Hebrews.
The writer of Hebrews begins his book without the usual identification and greeting in order to jump right into his subject. What a subject it is! Who is Jesus, the Son of the Living God?
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.” (Hebrews 1:1–2). The message of these verses is that in the revelation of God there is diversity and unity.
The writer underlined the diversity in the first verse by emphasizing that God’s revelation through the prophets was first a piecemeal revelation. The first word in the Greek sentence is the word translated “at various times” in our translation could probably be better translated “in many parts.”
God revealed Himself in the Bible, little by little, and bit by bit. Each installment built on what had come before to give us what we call progressive revelation. We see this every year in our Christmas service. In our service we read some of the verses in the Old Testament which show us God’s plan of redemption being progressively revealed. We begin with the first glimpse that God gives us of His plan of redemption in Genesis 3:15. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Did God give us the entirety of what He was going to do? No. He began the process of showing us “bit by bit.”
It was also that the revelation through the prophets came in “various ways.” God spoke with Adam in the cool of the day in the Garden. He appeared to Abraham in a theophany. He appeared to Jacob in a dream, and as the Angel of the LORD He wrestled with Jacob.
To Moses God spoke “face to face as a man speaks with his friend.” He also dictated to Moses the Law. From Moses to Malachi, God’s revelation is presented as history, Psalm, and prophecy. God’s method of revelation was diverse in form.
It also was diverse in time. “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.”
Do you see the contrast? The first revelation was in time past and to the fathers. It was an historical revelation. It happened in the past. It also was a revelation to our forbearers in the faith. While there is a difference in our times and cultural situations, the revelation is one we must see and understand.
The culmination of the revelation came in “these last days.” This is the Messianic age. In contrast to the progressive and piecemeal revelation of the prophets, we have the completion of the revelation in the Lord Jesus Christ. “Has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” God’s last word to man is found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We read a similar statement in the Gospel of John. In John 1:17-18 John wrote: “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” We find what was revealed through the prophets contrasted with that which was given us in the Son. Moses showed us our need of a Savior in the Law, while Jesus came and showed the grace and truth in God’s plan as He became the Savior that was required. Jesus expounded God to us.
Although there is diversity in the revelation, there is also a vital unity. It is the revelation of the one true and living God. “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” God spoke. God is the revealer and the revealed one. The revelation is an unveiling of God’s person and plan. It is a unified revelation because it reveals the One true and living God.
This has important ramifications. Some would divide the New Testament revelation of God in the person of His Son from the Old Testament revelation. This is a mistake. Law and Gospel go together. The Law lays down the groundwork and breaks up the hardened soil of the heart. The Gospel is the rest of the story. It is the good news that Jesus came to save us who are under the condemnation of the Law. Without the Law the rest of the story makes no sense.
This unity is important because God has completed His revelation in His Son. When the New Testament closed, there is no need for further revelation. We don’t need prophets to reveal God to us. God has finished His revelation in His Son. We don’t need dreams and visions, etc., because God’s revelation is complete. Don’t let any one mislead you.
The writer is not satisfied to just tell us that Jesus is consummation of the revelation of God, he also tells us who this Jesus is. “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).
First, Jesus has been “appointed the heir of all things.” (Hebrews 1:2). This simply means that the focus and point of everything created is the Son of God. In Revelation, we read of the 24 elders engaging in worship of the Lord and saying: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are [exist] and were created.”
Second, He is also the one through whom God the Father created all things. “Through whom also He made the worlds.” The word translated worlds is the word “ages.” John 1:3 says, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” The emphasis here is that He not only created every thing, but He created and controls all the ages of time.
Third, the Lord Jesus is the one, “who is [being] the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person.” He is the radiance of His glory and He is the express image of the Father’s Person. The word “being” is important. The Lord Jesus was always the image of God Himself. He did not become it. He has always been the radiance of His glory. He has also always been the image of the Father’s person. That is why Jesus could say to Philip in John 14:9 “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Jesus is God of very God.
He upholds all things by the word of His power. Jesus sustains the universe that He has made. Do we see His majesty and His divinity here? Colossians 1:16-17, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” What angel could do this? None. Could any created being? Absolutely not.
He is the one who, “when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Jesus put away our sins, if we have put our trust in Him. One of the recurring themes in this book is how the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus took care of our sin once for all.
We have learned many things about who the Lord Jesus Christ is today. The most important thing that He can be for you is your Savior. Have you believed in Him? Has He saved you once for all?