Study Notes

Hebrews 1:3-4


Last week, we were introduced to the book of Hebrews. The writer is addressing Jewish Christians that had begun to fall back into relying on Judaism for their security in salvation.

The first two verses showed us that God is and that He speaks. First, He spoke through the prophets, then finally in His Son Jesus Christ. As we pick up in verse three this morning, the author continues telling us about Jesus.

1:3-4 His Glory

Verse three of the first chapter of Hebrews has my vote for the most theologically complex verse of the entire Bible. We will really need to dissect and digest what it says in order to understand what it is communicating to us.

The first statement the writer makes is that Jesus is the "radiance of God's glory, and the exact representation of God's nature." What does this mean? To understand this, we first need to know what God's glory is.

The word "glory" means "brightness." You will recall that when God appears in the Scripture, He is described as dwelling...

1Tim. 6:16 unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see...

In the book of Ezekiel, we read that the prophet had a vision of heaven. He described the throne room of God, saying,

Ezek. 10:4 ...the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the LORD.

When the Lord came to the Israelites at Mount Sinai,

Exod. 24:17 the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the mountain top.

Now, the word "glory" in Hebrew is Kaw-BODE, which comes from the word for "heavy" or "weighty." God's glory is not just extreme brightness, also weight. When Solomon's temple was finished, God's glory filled it...

1Kgs. 8:11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.

It was more than the brightness of God's presence which prevented them from standing. It was the sheer weight of His glory.

The Radiance

Now that you have an idea of what the glory of the Lord is, read again that Jesus...

Hebr. 1:3 the radiance of His glory

God's glory is communicated through Jesus Christ. But here is where many make a mistake: He is not merely reflecting God's glory. It is important to understand that "radiance" does not mean reflection.

When we see the full moon in the sky, we think that it is brightly shining. But in fact, the moon has no ability to shine at all. It is a lifeless, dusty rock. Its brightness is merely a reflection of the sun's light.

In reality, the sun's light is radiated from the burning star in the center of our solar system. Christ is not reflecting God's glory, as the moon reflects the sun, but He is the radiance of God's glory, as the light and energy waves bring the power of the sun to us.

Without light waves, we could not see the sun. Without its energy being transmitted to earth, we could not feel its heat. The same is true here: without Jesus Christ, we could not see God. But now, because Christ has come, we have seen God.

Before the crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples, "I'm going where you cannot follow Me. You're going to follow later." Peter said, "I want to follow You now." But Jesus said, "You're not going there yet. But don't worry, you'll know the way."

John 14:5-9 Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and {yet} you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, ‘Show us the Father'?"

When we see Jesus, we see God. That is why the writer of Hebrews says Jesus is...

Hebr. 1:3 ...the exact representation of His nature...

When we have seen Jesus, we have seen God. When we know Jesus, we know God.

Upholds All Things

Last week, we saw that Jesus Christ is the heir of all things. God made the world through Him. Now we have seen that God's glory shines to us through Him, and He is perfectly represented by Him. Further, the writer tells us that Jesus upholds all things. Paul put it this way in Colossians,

Col. 1:17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

He is maintaining and controlling the very molecules and atoms that the universe is made of! How? By the word of His power. He is sustaining the universe the same way He created it - simply by speaking it.

Gen. 1:1-3 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.

Over the course of the next five days, God spoke everything into existence: stars and sun, oceans and animals, plants and people. He spoke it and it happened. There is power in the Word that God speaks.

When 600 men, led by Judas Iscariot, came to the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus, He...

John 18:4-6 ...went forth, and said to them, "Whom do you seek?" They answered Him, "Jesus the Nazarene." He said to them, "I am {He.} " And Judas also who was betraying Him, was standing with them. When therefore He said to them, "I am {He} ," they drew back, and fell to the ground.

With a single statement, they all fell backwards on the ground!

When a man with leprosy, an incurable disease, approached Jesus, he said,

Matt. 8:2-3 ..."Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

He spoke it, and it was accomplished. The Word of God is powerful beyond our comprehension.

It is the Word of God which upholds the universe. It is the Word of God that heals or destroys. Do you know that this book you hold in your hand is the Word of God? It is incredibly powerful - living and active. It is able to effect your life, to change your eternal destiny.

Paul wrote,

1Cor. 1:18 For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

The word of the cross is the power of God, but some consider it foolishness. You decide for yourself how you will view it.

Purification Of Sins

The Bible teaches that

Rom. 6:23 ...the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That free gift was given at the cross. When the Romans nailed Him to the cross and raised it up, He was very close to death. With his final breaths, He cried out,

John 19:30 ..."It is finished!" And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.

"It is finished." In Greek, it is, "te tel-EH-o stai," which literally means, "paid in full." The death penalty of your sins was paid.

Now, the only thing left to receive the free gift of forgiveness is to receive Jesus Christ, the image of God. Jesus said,

John 8:24 "I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am {He} , you shall die in your sins."

How terrible it would be to die in your sins when the price has been paid in full!

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