STUDY Hebrews 1:1-14 (click here for notes)

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior t the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son, today I have become your Father?"

Or again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son"?

And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him."

In speaking of the angels he says, "He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire."

But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy."

He also says, "In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.

"They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.

"You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and the years will never end."

To which of the angels did God ever say, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet"?

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? (NIV)


Foundation of the Letter

The author of Hebrews remains unknown, but two people surface as leading possibilities. The first is Barnabas, an idea which comes from Tertullian's De Pudicitia (c. 200) in which Tertullian quotes from "an epistle to the Hebrews under the name of Barnabas". The second name, first suggested by Martin Luther and favored by many scholars today, is Apollos. The recipients were Jewish converts who were in danger of reverting to Judaism or of Judaizing the gospel. The letter begins with a statement of Jesus' superiority over the prophets and angels.

1. To what specifically is the author referring by the designation, "In the past"? (see John 9:29; Hebrews 2:2,3; 4:8-10; 12:25; 8:5)


2. "These last days" in v. 2 contrasts with "in the past" in v. 1. What are "these last days"? (Deut. 4:30,31; Acts 2:15-17; Hebrews 9:26; 1 Peter 1:20)


3. What makes God's communication with us "in these last days" superior to his communication "in the past"? (v. 2; Luke 1:70; Acts 2: 29-31; Numbers 12:6,7; Matt.3:17;Heb. 3:6; 5:8,9; 7:28)


4. What are the differences between the revelations of the Son and of the prophets?


Creator and Heir

Verses 2 and 3 demonstrate the Son's superiority with seven statements about his attributes and accomplishments.

1. Find the seven descriptive statements about the Son in verses 2-3.


2. What did Jesus inherit when God appointed him "heir of all things"? (Matt. 11:27; 28:18; Psalm 2:8; Romans 8:17)


3. What are the implications of Jesus' being both heir and creator? (see John 1:1-4; Col 1:16, 17; Heb.11:3; 2 Peter 3:5)


Jesus: Sustainer, Purifier, God

The descriptive statements about Jesus in these two verses establish Jesus' true identity and provide a foundation for the rest of the book of Hebrews.

1. What does it mean and why is it important that Jesus is "the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being"? (see Ex. 33:18, 19; 40:34; John 1:14, 18; 14:9; Gal.4:4; Phil. 2:6-8)


2. What is significant about Jesus' "sustaining all things by his powerful word"? (see John 1:14; Gen. 1; Acts 17:28; Col. 1:17)


3. What is the meaning and what are the implications of the statement, "After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven"? (see Titus 2:14; Hebrews 7:27; 9:11-14;Mark 16:19)


Superior to Angels

Jews believed angels were exalted beings because of their legendary involvement in giving the law at Sinai-an event Jews believed to be God's ultimate revelation of himself.

1. What point is the author of Hebrews trying to make by stressing that God names Jesus "Son", and by discussing what angels can and cannot do? (Psalm 2:7; 2 Sam. 7:14; Matt. 3:17; Acts 13:33; Luke 1:32,33)


2. What point is Paul making in v. 6-7 regarding the relationship between Jesus and the angels? (see also Deut. 32:43 and Psalm 97:7)


3. What is the function of angels? (Psalm 91:11; 103:20; Dan. 7:10)


4. How is the "job" of the Son different from that of angels? (v. 8-12; Luke 1:33; Philippians 2:9; Zech. 12:1; Hebrews 13:8)


Significance of Christ's Identity

The Dead Sea Scrolls indicate that many Jews expected Michael the Archangel to be the central figure in the Messianic kingdom. Many doing this study learned that Michael the Archangel was synonymous with Jesus.

1. Who is Michael the Archangel? (Jude 9; Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1; Rev. 12:7)


2. How does this passage in Hebrews demonstrate that Jesus cannot be an archangel?


Personal Experience

1. Of what significance is it to you that Jesus is both the Creator and the Heir of all things?


2. What assumptions have you carried about angels and their functions?


3. Which of the seven descriptive statements about Jesus in v. 2-3 is the hardest for you to embrace fully?


4. What does it mean for you that Jesus has provided purification and has sat down by "the Majesty in heaven"?



1. What belief or assumption do you hold that places Jesus a little lower than God in your heart or mind?


2. Which of the truths about Jesus listed in v. 2-3 do you need to internalize?


3. What problem do you have in your life which seems unsolvable but which you need to submit to Jesus for healing and redemption?


4. Ask God to renew your heart and mind in Jesus Christ, and allow him to overwhelm you with the reality of his holiness, grace, and love.


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