Word of the Son

OVERVIEW - God’s final and complete “word” has been “spoken” in His Son. All previous “words” were partial, preparatory, and incomplete – Hebrews 1:1

Bible - Photo by Kiwihug on Unsplash
The epistle to the Hebrews compares what God achieved in Jesus to the provisional and partial revelation provided under the old covenant, especially in the Mosaic legislation. The contrast is between the finality of the revelation in Jesus Christ, and the partial and incomplete revelation provided by the “prophets,” which would include Moses. What was preparatory and provisional under the old regime, has been superseded by the complete and final “word in a son.” - [
Photo by Kiwihug on Unsplash].

Hebrews demonstrates the superiority of the Son’s word, his ministry, his priesthood, and his sacrifice over the services, priesthood, and the sacrifices of the preceding Levitical system. The epistle does not denigrate these past revelations, but it stresses how much the new revelation has surpassed all that came before - What was incomplete is now complete in Jesus.
  • (Hebrews 1:1-3) – “In many parts and in many ways of old, God spoke to the fathers in the prophets; at the end of these days, He spoke to us in a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the ages; Who, being an eradiated brightness of his glory, and an exact representation of his very being, also bearing up all things by the word of his power, purification of sins having achieved, sat down on the right hand of the majesty in high places.”
The letter is addressed to a Christian congregation near the city of Rome that was experiencing pressure from outsiders. Some members were contemplating a return to the local synagogue to avoid persecution, which would have necessitated conforming to at least some rituals required by the book of Leviticus - (Hebrews 2:15, 10:25-34, 12:4, 13:24-25).

The purpose of the epistle is pastoral, not theological – It seeks to encourage believers to remain in the congregation despite outside pressures and even persecution. A return to the synagogue would mean apostasy and the betrayal of the Son of God - (Hebrews 2:1-3, 3:6, 12-14, 4:1, 11-13, 6:1-12, 10:26-31, 10:35-39).

The epistle begins with its main proposition - at the start of the “these last days,” the final, full, and superior “Word of God” has been spoken in the “Son.” The “word of the Son” marks the end of one age and the commencement of another.

In the Greek, the sentence begins with two adverbs - polumerōs and polutropōs. Both are compounded with the adjective polus, or “much, many.” Polumerōs combines it with meros, or “part.” Polutropōs is combined with tropos, or “manner.” Both words stress different aspects of the past revelation “in the prophets.” It was partial (“in many parts”) and given in different “ways.” Presumably, the latter category included prophecies, visions, dreams, and other forms of inspired communication. God did speak before, but only partially so - here a little, there a little. Three contrasts are presented to demonstrate this:
  • God spoke “of old,” but now, “upon these last days.”
  • God spoke to “the fathers” (ancient Israel), but now, “to us,” the church.
  • God spoke “in the prophets,” but now, “in a Son.”
The previous prophetic words were promissory, preparatory, incomplete - They did not reveal fully what God intended. A more complete revelation was necessary. As the epistle will argue, the old system failed to achieve the “purification of sins.”

Jesus_the_Shepherd
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The past “
word” was correct but incomplete. However, the complete “word” is expressed in one who is a “son.” The term “last days” provides the time key for this final “word” - It began with the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. His exaltation to God’s right hand ushered in the era of fulfillment - (Acts 2:17, Galatians 4:4, Ephesians 1:10).

In the Greek sentence, there is no definite article or “the” before the word “son.” Omitting the article lays stress on the class or status of a “son,” not on his individual identity. The “word” that God now speaks is by means of one who is a son, in contrast to prophets, priests, and angels.

A son is in the closest relationship to a father, and that closeness emphasizes the elevated status of Jesus. The “Son” is superior even to Moses; consequently, the “word” spoken in him is vastly superior to all others, period. His word is not just one among many other inspired words, but instead, one with absolute and final authority.

The “Son” in whom God now speaks is the same one appointed by Him to be the “heir of all things,” an allusion to the second Psalm, a text used several times throughout the epistle. In it, Yahweh promised to give His Messiah the “nations as an inheritance,” but the epistle has expanded the promise to make him the “heir of all things”:
  • (Psalm 2:7-8) – “I will tell of the decree: Yahweh said to me, You are my son; This day have I begotten you. Ask of me, and I will give the nations for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession.
This son is the eradiated brightness of the glory and the exact impress of God’s very essence. Not only does he hold an elevated position, but he reflects the very glory of God.
This is not metaphysical speculation about the nature of Christ; instead, it points to the surpassing greatness of the position he now holds because of his obedient death - (“Having achieved purification of sins, he was appointed heir”).
The reference to the “purification of sins” anticipates the epistle’s discussions about the superior priesthood and sacrifice of Jesus, especially their permanent results. As a result, the Son “sat down on the right hand of majesty.”

Under the Levitical system, the high priest entered the sanctuary only on the annual Day of Atonement, and he never “sat down” or remained within it. In contrast, Jesus entered the true sanctuary “once for all” and “sat down,” where he now remains as High Priest. The description emphasizes the completeness of his priestly act and his exaltation to reign on the divine “throne.” And there he will remain until God again “introduces the first-begotten into the habitable earth.

The “word” spoken in the Son is superior to all past revelations in two ways. First, it is the last and final word in a long series of revelations. Second, the Son himself is the consummation of these past and partial revelations - “The perfecter of our faith.” The goal of the epistle is to exhort believers to hold fast to the vastly superior “word” they have in Jesus. His full and final “word” surpasses all past revelations, whether disclosed by prophets, priests, angels, or even Moses.

Only in His Son is the final revelation of Yahweh found, not in the regulations of the Torah, animal sacrifices, circumcision, the phases of the moon, or the observation of holy days. The Son came to fulfill what those things foreshadowed, not to renew them.

What preceded the “word spoken in a Son” was preparatory and promissory, not final. As Paul put it, the old system constituted the “shadow” of the substance - Christ Jesus.

This is the choice Christians must face when they contemplate dialing back Christianity into one form of Judaism or another. Pouring new wine into old wineskins will never produce the desired results. Why chase after shadows when the substance that once cast them stands in their midst?






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