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Sunday, May 08, 2011

God has a Son: Hebrews 1:1-4

We just demonstrated that, according to an alternate reading of Titus 2:13b[1], Jesus Christ is exalted and shares the glory of [our] great God ῆς δόξης τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ. Now we will look at Hebrews 1:1-4:

Heb. 1:1 RSV In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets;  2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.  3 He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,  4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has obtained is more excellent than theirs.

Heb. 1:1 Πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως πάλαι ὁ θεὸς λαλήσας τοῖς πατράσιν ἐν τοῖς προφήταις  2 ἐπ᾿ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων ἐλάλησεν ἡμῖν ἐν υἱῷ, ὃν ἔθηκεν κληρονόμον πάντων, δι᾿ οὗ καὶ ἐποίησεν τοὺς αἰῶνας·  3 ὃς ὢν ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ, φέρων τε τὰ πάντα τῷ ῥήματι τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ, καθαρισμὸν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ποιησάμενος ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τῆς μεγαλωσύνης ἐν ὑψηλοῖς,  4 τοσούτῳ κρείττων γενόμενος τῶν ἀγγέλων ὅσῳ διαφορώτερον παρ᾿ αὐτοὺς κεκληρονόμηκεν ὄνομα.

The author of Hebrews, similar to John’s gospel, launches his treatise with a magnificent affirmation of orthodox[2] christology. The new manner in which God speaks is different in kind from the revelation πάλαι of old τοῖς πατράσιν ἐν τοῖς προφήταις to [our] fathers by the prophets. The agent of this revelation is God’s Son ἐλάλησεν ἡμῖν ἐν υἱῷ.

In Heb 1:3a the Son both shares in and manifests τῆς δόξης … αὐτοῦ  the glory of God. Here we see a more detailed exposition of the christology of God's glory than we found in the alternate reading of Titus 2:13b[1]. John's prolog also contributes: John 1:14b ... καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας. John 1:14  ... and we gazed upon his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

[1] θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος have separate referents, God the Father and Jesus Christ. 

[2] orthodox is not anachronistic, in “Lord Jesus Christ,” L. W. Hurtado pushes back the date on exalted christology earlier than Hebrews.


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