Saturday, January 24, 2015

Hebrews 1:1-4

It is my habit to post my notes for Sunday School (Life groups?) lessons.  I am teaching tomorrow on this passage.

This is one of four major Christological passages, which means

1.  John 1:1-5.  This one tells us the Christ is eternal, equal to God, and creator and life and guide to mankind. 
a.  In the beginning—where else do we see that? 
b.  Word here is the Greek word logos, meaning expression. 
c.   Although the “trinity” or “tri-unity” of God is beyond full human thought, the Bible does invite us to understand and appreciate it through such passages.  The Son of God is distinct from God the Father but not a “separate” God.  God was not diminished while Christ was on earth, not “separated” or “split.”
2.  Colossians 1:15-20.  This passage points to the fact that the Son of God is creator and sustainer of the physical world, that He is the eternal expression of God, and reconciler.
a.     firstborn is not a title of time, but of pre-eminence. 
b.     Notice that in both passages we have not just who but what He does eternally for mankind. 
3.  Philippians 2:5-11.  This was a hymn in the first century.  Called the gnosis.
a.  emphasis on, as in Hebrews, the transition from eternal Son of God to person on the cross to exalted Son.
b. the mystery of the trinity is that they are co-equal and co-eternal but there is still a type of subordination and that the Son of God “gained” something through the incarnation. 
4.  Hebrews 1:1-4. 
a.  same emphasis as 1 and 2 on expression
b.  same emphasis as  in 3 on the experience of the cross back to exaltation.  Now, because of the cross, the church has started and the world experiences the Godhead in a new way.  He is exalted from a human standpoint, not an eternal one.
c.  same emphasis as 1 and 2 on Son of God as Creator and Sustainer
d.  God is outside of time.  (Now my brain is tired). 

Additional notes:
Author?  Most say Paul.  I am noncommittal.  Why wouldn’t he say so? Most early church wrote like they believed it was Paul.
Audience? Hebrew Christian and almost Christian
1. to encourage those under persecution
2. to create a defense of the faith especially in the Jewish minds
3. to encourage those on the fence to cross the fence to true faith commitment to Christ alone.  He draws on OT references to Jews who didn’t “go all the way.”

verse 1: 
Sundry times and in diverse manners.  The way God spoke in the past was fragmentary and incomplete (not imperfect in our sense).  It was to the Jewish people, to whom were given “the oracles of God.” (Romans)
In these latter days – could be thought of as recently but also as the beginning of the end.
Verse 2:  Spoken by His Son.
How does God speak by (or in) His Son, Jesus?
1.     physical existence, the incarnation.  Neither materialism or Gnosticism.  The body is a good thing, and Jesus embraced his physical existence. 
2.     teachings (which we tend to overlook)
3.     miracles
4.     cross
5.     resurrection
6.     ascension (which we also overlook)
Jesus is
            a.  heir of all things
            b.  co-creator of all things (like a family business!)
Verse 3:  Express image of His person and brightness of His glory—where?  On earth or in heaven?  Both, but physical glory was largely hidden on earth; he was not impressive on earth.  Emphasis is on the fact that he shows and communicates God.
a.     He purged our sins.  More than atone or cover, but cleaned, purified a poison from our system.
b.     He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.  Several times this act is mentioned, to express completion of His work and return to exaltation with God.  It also is fulfillment of prophecy.  See Psalm 110:1. 
Verse 4:  Having become so much better than the angels.
Well of course he was?  What is the point?
Psalm 8:4-5.  Mankind is a little lower than the angels
Hebrews 2:9 Jesus was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death.
It is a reference to his becoming a man (below angels) and then exaltation, a common theme in Hebrews.

Summary and walking points:
1.     Some things are hard to understand.  Why?
a. they need more study
b. they are miracles
c. to protect us from pride
d.  We are incapable of  thinking God’s thoughts God’s ways
e. Sometimes we understand but don’t much like it.
f.  The nature of revelation itself
§  progressive, but now complete.   Controversy.  Does God speak to us personally through the Holy Spirit to apply scripture (John 16:13) or reveal new ideas today (Revelation 22:18)? 
§  what God wants us to know, not everything there is to know
§  “baby talk”
§  how we are supposed to read it.  Line upon line.  Contextual.  Like a letter between two people we don’t know.  Hebrews is a good example because we jump right in without reference to the author, audience, problem, past, etc., and we have to figure it out as we read.
2.     If we aren’t straight on Jesus, we won’t be straight on anything else.  Cults
3.     Sufficiency of Christ.  Total rest in what He has done.

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