Agonizomai: Heb 1:1-2 - Christ - Eternal Son Incarnate

Monday, October 19, 2009

Heb 1:1-2 - Christ - Eternal Son Incarnate

Heb 1:1-2 - Christ - Eternal Son Incarnate

Hebrews 1:1-2 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

The testimony that this is written to the Jews is found in the reference to the historical record of God’s dealings with Israel, which they so carefully preserved and revered. God chose their nation from among all the nations of the earth not because they were mighty or strong or large, but because of their insignificance. As Paul says in 2Corinthians, "we have this treasure in jars of clay that to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." {2Co 4:7} The same principle applied to the chosen nation as applies to the chosen church.

The sheer constancy and the dazzling diversity of God’s communication to Israel in the past is nothing short of stunning. Having chosen Israel, He delivered them out of Egypt with a mighty arm and an outstretched hand, in mercy. Note the mercy. They were never to think that any of their deliverances or victories, nor the vanquishing or destruction of their enemies was due to themselves. Israel was the recipient of grace and the agent of His will, and its citizens were supposed to think of themselves in that way.

And what better preparation could there be for the acceptance of the Deliverer Himself? If Israel had not largely trodden upon every vestige of God’s blessings and ignored His repeated admonishments, corrections and chastenings then they would have been found humbly waiting in eager expectation for their Messiah. But only a remnant was so found. And it is to this remnant in his present age that the writer to the Hebrews addresses himself with a letter that continues to admonish, correct and chastise.

The treatise begins with a recapitulation of the gospel, putting Christ firmly at the centre not only of church history, but of all history, including and especially that of the Jews. The writer holds forth Jesus, the Eternal Son, through whom the world was made and to whom all things belong forevermore. This "Jesus," this Son proceeded forth from the Father, in whose bosom He is. He is the utterance of Godness in a form intelligible to humanity, because He is fully human. This is the Living Word of God, mystically and eternally linked to the recorded Word that preceded and followed Him in time. He is the Word of which the Word testifies.

All of the history given to the Jews and which the writer now invokes to their memory was written by God, through the inspiration of the Spirit and about the Eternal Son. The written Word’s purpose is to point to Jesus. For the Jews of history it pointed forward in time, and for the church it points backward in time - but whichever way it points it is all about Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son, given for the atonement of the sins of His people, and to be their righteousness through faith.

And the Author and personification of the written Word stepped onto the stage of history in what the readers of this letter understood as “the last days”. And so they are. This age, heralded by the death and resurrection of the Christ, is the last age before His coming in judgment, and to restore all things.

We indeed have both the luxury and the difficulty of seeing all of this in the perspective of transpired history, and with the clarity of a completed canon of scripture. But what we gain in perspective in one way, we lose in perspective by not understanding the Jewishness of the church. Everyone who was ever in the church is and has always been a Jew; some by birth and some by adoption. Salvation is of the Lord, yes - but it is of the Lord through the Jews and to them.

Spiritual Israel existed in the history of the Jews and it exists in the church. All those who believe in the Christ and receive Him are spiritual Israel. They are the remnant - a principle found in the world, the nation of Israel and even the professing church - a stub, a leftover, a reserve kept by God; a testimony to His saving and keeping power, and not to the piety, holiness and efforts of those He is saving.

So God has, in these last days spoken to Israel literally, "in Son" (ἐν υἱῷ). This phrase means more than that God spoke "through" His Son (though He did that, too) - but that God spoke in the whole incarnation and life of Christ, including His every word and deed. It was all communication. It was all declaration. It was all representation. It was everything that God had been, was and would say to man about Himself on this side of the judgement. The New Testament writers applied and interpreted the gospel, but never added to what God spoke in the Person of Christ.

But what does it mean that this Christ was appointed heir of all things? Why heir, if He was creator? Why did He need to inherit what was already His Own? What changed? And the stunning response is that the incarnation happened. This creator, this Eternal Son, set aside his heavenly glory and came and lived a completely human life upon the earth, starting with conception and birth. He never ceased to be fully God, but He added to His Person the full nature of our humanity. He became the second Adam, so that he could perfectly represent those He came to save.

And all those He saves are eternally and indissolubly joined to Him. He is in them and they are in Him. To man, He represents God and to God He represents redeemed humanity (made up of His church). But having lived as a man and utterly fulfilled the Father’s will, He has inherited as the head of redeemed humanity, by His obedience unto death (even death on a cross) all that is God’s. Do you see the difference? All things are ours (who belong to Christ) and we are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.

There is no change as to His eternal ownership of all things as God, but added to that is now the co-Heirship forged by Him as man on our behalf. We are His inheritance. And He is ours. He is both Son of God and Son of Man.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such wonderful words-" We are his inheritance. And He is ours." That the King of glory should choose us weak, sinning, frail humans is astounding. Yet He did, and we rejoice! The riches of His grace is impossible to comprehend, yet we believe, because He allowed us to believe.I love hearing these teachings first thing in the morning.

8:53 am  
Blogger agonizomai said...


Wonderful indeed, since they are His Own.



9:06 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony -

I've followed your friend Derek over at THEOparadox for a while, and when I saw via him that you were doing a series on Hebrews, I couldn't help stopping in.

I've worked through Hebrews in Greek (and yes, it was tough!) and I've decided the book's slogan should be "parse or die!".

An interesting translational note on Hebrews 1.1 - I have yet to figure out why the opening verse gets translated so badly in the English versions. I simply don't understand why it isn't translated adverbially: "After God in many and various ways spoke to the fathers in the prophets, He spoke to us in the Son," It's a dependent clausal construction, not a co-ordinating independent clausal construction. Translations should reflect this since it impacts exegetical clarity!!

I hope your study of Hebrews blesses you as much as studying this great hortatory epistle blessed me!

2:11 pm  
Blogger agonizomai said...


Well thanks for stopping by. I'm afraid you have the advantage of me regarding the Greek language since I know only enough to be dangerous, never having formally studied it.

The Hebrews study was indeed a blessing in which I discovered many affirmations for my own faith. I do hope and pray that others will find something helpful in there, too.



2:38 pm  

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