Study on Hebrews 1 with Ellen G. White Comments

Hebrews 1: 1-4

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 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: Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they (Hebrews 1:-4 KJV)

Comment: Point 1: “God” in this passage is clearly the Father. We know this because He is differentiated from another Person that is called “His Son” in vs. 2.

EGW Comment:

“The Scriptures clearly indicate the relation between God and Christ, and they bring to view as clearly the personality and individuality of each. {3TT 266.2}

[Hebrews 1:1-5 quoted]

“God is the Father of Christ; Christ is the Son of God. To Christ has been given an exalted position. He has been made equal with the Father. All the counsels of God are opened to His Son. {3TT 266.4}

Comment: Point 2: This passage seems to present a linear sequence of progression with respect to His Son focusing on 3 stages – His pre-existence, His incarnation and His ascension

  1. Appointed heir of all things – 1st Event

  2. God made the worlds (lit: ages) through Him – 2nd Event

  3. The Son is described as being (present participle) the brightness of His glory and the express image of His Person and upholding (present participle) all things by the word of His power –3rd event (this would comprehend past activity and present activity as the Son exalted back to His original glory)

  4. When He had by Himself He purged our sins – 4th event (this would comprehend His incarnation)

  5. Sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high – 5th event (this would comprehend His ascension and restoration back to His original glory)

Comment: Point 3: Vs. 4 is an allusion back to the 1st event which was the Son being appointed as God’s heir of all things. Notice that this was before He made the worlds. This is actually a reference back to Proverbs 8 but that is another study. The salient point here is that the sequence of events mentioned prove the Son’s superiority over the angels to the same degree that His inherited Name is superior to their names.

EGW Comments:

“The love of God, manifested toward fallen man in the gift of his beloved Son, amazed the holy angels. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The Son was the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of his person. He possessed divine excellence and greatness. He was equal with God. It pleased the Father that in him all fullness should dwell. He “thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” Yet he “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” {2SP 38.2}

Note: The conjunction “yet” here indicates that the descriptors prior to this are speaking of the Son of God in His pre-incarnate existence. This supports my contention that Hebrews 1 is presenting a linear progression.

“God is love.” His matchless love for fallen man, expressed in the gift of his beloved Son, amazed the holy angels. Christ was the heir of all things, by whom also the worlds were made. He was the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the “express image of his person.” He upheld “all things by the word of his power.” In himself he possessed divine excellence and greatness; for it pleased the Father that in him all fullness should dwell. And Christ “thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” Yet he “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” {BEcho January 1, 1887, par. 2}

Note: The conjunction “for” here connects the previous clause by way of explanation. It is similar in meaning to words like “because” or “since.” (i.e. he was tired from the trip for he had been forced to march 20 miles). This passage actually supports the idea that the pre-incarnate Son possessing Divine excellence and greatness is a result of God the Father’s will!

“In becoming man’s substitute, in bearing the curse which should fall upon man, Christ has pledged Himself in behalf of the race to maintain the sacred and exalted honour of his Father’s law. He came to convince men of sin, which is the transgression of the law, and through divine mediation, bring them back to obedience to God’s commandments. God has given the world into the hands of Christ, that He may completely vindicate the binding claims of the law, and make manifest the holiness of every principle. Christ was the Father’s “appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds.” He was the “brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.” And He upheld “all things by the word of his power.” He possessed divine excellence and greatness; and it pleased the Father that in Him all fulness should dwell. Christ exchanged the throne of light and glory which He had with the Father, counting it not a thing to be desired to be equal with God while man was lost in sin and misery. He came from heaven to earth, clothed his divinity with humanity, and bore the curse as surety for the fallen race. He was not compelled to do this; but He chose to bear the results of man’s transgression, that man might escape eternal death. {BEcho July 15, 1893, par. 9}

Note: In this quote there is no conjunction yet the literary context reveals that Mrs. White was describing Christ before He exchanged the throne of light and glory He had with the Father to come down to the earth.

Hebrews 1:5 “Fo
r unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?”

Comment: The purpose of this comment does not appear to be to place the begetting of the Son within a given point of time but rather a point is being made by contrast by his quoting this Old Testament verse. The author’s assertion is that this statement is never applicable to any angel. This proves that they are not begotten sons and further evidences the Son’s superiority.

Hebrews 1:6 “And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.”

Comment: Again the author demonstrates the superiority of the Son of God by noting that when God brought Him into the world, He told all of the angels to worship Him. We note that the plain reading of this verse indicates that He was already the “firstbegotten” upon His entry into the world. The incarnation did not make Him into such.

EGW Comment:

“The dedication of the first-born had its origin in the earliest times. God had promised to give THE FIRST-BORN OF HEAVEN to save the sinner. This gift was to be acknowledged in every household by the consecration of the first-born son. He was to be devoted to the priesthood, as a representative of Christ among men. {DA 51.1}

Comment: I would also like to suggest that this declaration from the Father was necessitated, presumably, because this entry of the firstbegotten into the world comprehended His taking on humanity, which is a position lower than the angels. Thus this statement from the Father serves as confirmation of His Divine status despite His Son’s new lower nature.

EGW Comment: Vs. 6 is the incarnation

“Our great Exemplar was exalted to be equal with God. He was high commander in heaven. All the holy angels delighted to bow before Him. “And again, when He bringeth in the First-begotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him.” Jesus took upon Himself our nature, laid aside His glory, majesty, and riches to perform his mission, to save that which was lost…. {2T 426.2}

He bringeth the firstbegotten into the world.” [Hebrews 1:6.] This is the incarnation of Christ. In and through Him the Father establishes the kingdom of heaven among men. {Ms151-1901.9}

“As God “bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.” [Verse 6.] Shall we not worship Him who first loved us, making Him the center of attraction?… {Ms105-1901.11}

EGW Comment: Vs. 6 language used at time of ascension

“When the great sacrifice had been consummated, Christ ascended on high, refusing the adoration of angels until He had presented the request: “I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am.” John 17:24. Then with inexpressible love and power came forth the answer from the Father’s throne: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” Hebrews 1:6. Not a stain rested upon Jesus. His humiliation ended, His sacrifice completed, there was given unto Him a name that is above every name. {GC 501.3}

Hebrews 1:7-14

And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. 10 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: 11 They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; 12 And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. 13 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Comments: The theme of contrasting the Son with the angels continues here. We note that the Father calls the Son “God” and indicates His permanent place upon the throne of the universe. Yet we also note that the Son has a God for the text says that “God, even THY God” is the One that anointed Him. We also note that the Son is credited as being the Creator of the heavens and earth. Thus the Son’s status as Creator, just as verily as the Father, is affirmed beyond contesting. This passage amplifies what we saw back in vs. 2. We also see an allusion back to vs. 3 in the statement “Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” Thus the same points that we saw in sequence back in vs. 2, 3 are reiterated in vs. 5 (by way of contrast that these words are never applicable to any angel), vs. 6 (the firstbegotten was brought into the world) and vs. 13 (He has sat down in the right hand of God). There appears to be a bit of weaving of the sequence in this section as the author presents his case for the superiority of the Son.

A few more points.

Commentary: Hebrews 1 also reveals the supremacy of the Son by means of contrast in its introduction

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son,…. (Heb 1:1,2a)

Notice that God spoke many times in different ways in time past to the fathers by multiple prophets. This is contrasted against Him having spoken once, now, in these last days unto us by One, His very Son. What a privilege! There is a sense of culmination, hitting a pinnacle in terms of Divine utterance here. This serves as a platform for not only introducing the theme of the Son’s supremacy but it ties the narrative together by building up appeals as seen in the next two chapters.

“**Therefore** we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. 2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; 3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him (Heb 2:1-4)

**Wherefore**, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; 2 Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Mose
s was faithful in all his house. 3 For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. 4 For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. 5 And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; 6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end (Heb 3:1-6)

It is a really marvelous crescendo of appeal happening here, so very logical to me. It just feels Pauline in composition to me but I digress. Anyhow, back to a different point I’d like to note.

Commentary: Beside the linear sequence of events seen in Hebrews 1 mentioned in the op up above there is also a thematic chiasm.

A) The Son compared to the prophets (implied superiority)

__B) The Son appointed as God’s Heir

____C) The Son as God’s Creator of worlds

______D) Brightness of Father’s glory/Express image of His Person

____C) The Son as Sustainer of all things

__B) The Son as Redeemer, exalted to God’s throne

A) The Son compared to the angels (explicit superiority)

As you can see there is a thematic chiasm. And what is the focus on? See letter D! It is on the Divine nature of God’s Son – that He is the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His Person. Fantastic! I will return to this point with some Egw commentary here shortly. Before I do though let’s look at another point.

Commentary: Another key point here is the tense of the verbs. In this section of Scripture we see aorist tenses throughout. This tense is usually rendered as simple past tense in English. Thus we see that God hath “spoken” by His Son (vs. 2), He hath “appointed” Him as Heir (vs. 2), by Him He hath “made” the worlds (vs. 2). And the Son has “purged” our sins (vs. 3) and “sat down” by the Father (vs. 3). Thus we are dealing with a sequence of past events. That is until we get to the central focus. There we have present tense verbs.

“Who being (present tense) the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person and upholding (present tense) all things by the word of His power…” (vs 2)

This is a description of the Divine nature of the Son of God. Egw explains:

“The apostle would call our attention from ourselves to the Author of our salvation. He presents before us his two natures, divine and human. Here is the description of the divine: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” He was “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.” {RH July 5, 1887, par. 3}

“Now, of the human: “He was made in the likeness of man: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death.” He voluntarily assumed human nature. It was his own act, and by his own consent. He clothed his divinity with humanity. He was all the while as God, but he did not appear as God. He veiled the demonstrations of Deity which had commanded the homage, and called forth the admiration, of the universe of God. He was God while upon earth, but he divested himself of the form of God, and in its stead took the form and fashion of a man. He walked the earth as a man. For our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. He laid aside his glory and his majesty. He was God, but the glories of the form of God he for a while relinquished….{RH July 5, 1887, par. 4}

So Hebrews 1:2 is a description of His Divine nature. Now let us note something very important here of the description of the Divine nature of the Son of God. It is contingent on the Father! How folks can read this passage and overlook this boggles me. Read the words!

“…the brightness of His glory”

This is obviously referring back to God the Father! The description of the Son’s Divinity refers Him back to His Father in terms of glory. He, the Son, is the brightness (or outshining) of the Father’s glory.

“….the express image of His person”

If the previous descriptor somehow wasn’t clear enough this one is overwhelmingly so. The Greek word here is “charakter.” It literally means the exact impress that is made upon clay or wax by a seal. It is a duplicate image or impress caused by the seal. This is a clear reference back to the Father that presents the Son as His duplicate. And, again, remember we are dealing with Him in terms of His Divine nature. How have we missed this wonderful Father/Son truth?

Back when I had to present my doctrine to the theology professors at SAU I brought this point up. Why is the Son, in His Deity, referred to as the express image of the Father and it is never the other way around? Why would that be? The obvious answer, at least to this author, is that the Father is His Source.

Now, unfortunately, I know what many will do as this juncture. They will try to avoid this by pointing to the incarnation. An argument will be made that the Son is God’s express image only because of His human birth. Yet what does the servant of the Lord say?

“BEFORE CHRIST CAME in the likeness of men, HE EXISTED IN THE EXPRESS IMAGE OF HIS FATHER. He thought it not robbery to be equal with God….{YI December 20, 1900, par. 4}

This is absolutely unmistakable. When are we speaking of here? Before Christ came as a man. And what did He exist as back then? The express image of His Father. Thus any argument that He is only the express image of God the Father due to His incarnation falls completely flat. It is not an acceptable explanation. There has to be another explanation and the one that both the Bible and the SOP offer is that He was begotten as such. I offer the following link for exploration on the matter. It is a fairly comprehensive look at sister White’s Christology.


Related article: A Question of Sonship: An EGW compilation

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