Hebrews 1:1-3

God’s Final Word: His Son

 In the past God spoke to our ancestors 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 also 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.”

The New Testament was originally written in Greek. Some scholars would say that this passage of Scripture is one of the most beautifully written pieces of Greek in the New Testament. The writer of Hebrews opens his book with words and rhythms of speech that cause the writing to flow beautifully and give power to its message. For those of us who don’t speak fluent Greek, it isn’t difficult to understand that it was a habit of the great Greek orators to create such masterpieces with their words in the opening paragraphs of a speech.

The writer of Hebrews is introducing us to one of the greatest truths come to man, the supreme revelation of God through his Son, Jesus, and therefore, since he was speaking of such a supreme revelation, he must use the best Greek and noblest language he could find. The author of Hebrews was clearly trained in Greek speaking and writing. When he became a Christian, he continued to use the gift God had given to him. As William Barclay says, “When a man becomes a Christian, he is not asked to abandon all the talents he once had; he is asked to use them in the service of Jesus Christ and his church.”

The first three verses of Hebrew serve as an introduction to the book. What is the basic idea of Hebrews? The book of Hebrews is centered around Jesus Christ in two ways:

  1. He alone brings the full revelation of God
  2. He alone enables men to enter into the presence of God

As stated previously, the writer of Hebrews is setting the stage for his message in the first three verses of his book. He is making a grand introduction, and his grand introduction calls our attention to the past. He begins by looking back. He begins with the prophets. “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways….” (Hebrews 1:1).

We don’t need to look far to find the prophets to whom the author of Hebrews is referring. A study of the Old Testament will lead us to the major and minor prophets who were the mouthpiece of God to the people of Israel. Woven throughout the books of the prophets are foreshadows of a hope to come. They were given promises by God of a future day when salvation would come to all mankind. They could not see in full what that would look like, they could only speak in part. The author of Hebrews makes a bold declaration. The old has gone, the new has come. Barclay states, “The time of human guessing and groping is at an end; the new age, the age of God, has dawned in Christ…In Jesus God has entered humanity, eternity has invaded time, and things can never be the same again.”

Why begin his message with a look back?

The author of Hebrews begins his book by contrasting Jesus to the prophets. He is building his case. He is going to show the difference between Jesus and the prophets (Especially that Jesus was not just another prophet). The prophets were seen as closest to God. They were his voice to the people. In a day when idolatry and all kinds of evil practices had found its way into most Israelite homes, the prophets were the remnants of a people who still heard from God. Amos said, “The Lord does nothing without revealing his secrets to his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7).  God’s revelation came through the minds and the hearts of the prophets. He revealed and they spoke and recorded his revelation to them. The author of Hebrews says the revelation of God came to them in many ways and many times.

How did God’s revelation come to the prophets?

  1. He spoke to the prophets concerning the time in which they lived. They always fit their message to the age, never letting it be out of date. William Barclay points out that while the message fit their time, it was also fragmentary. What does this mean? Each prophet, out of his own experience of life and out of the experience of Israel, were able to grasp and express a fragment of the truth of God. They were not yet able to grasp the full revelation of what God was doing in history. They saw a limited view from their place in the timetable of history. For example, Amos revealed God’s heart for social justice. Isaiah grasped the holiness of God. Hosea realized the wonder of the forgiving love of God.  BUT WITH JESUS IT WAS DIFFERENT. He was not a fragment of the truth; he was THE WHOLE TRUTH. In him God displayed not some part of himself, but all of himself.
  2. The prophets also used many methods to declare the revelation of God. They used speech and dramatic action. The prophet had to use human actions and words to help convey his part of the truth of God. Again, it was different with Jesus. How did Jesus reveal God? BY BEING HIMSELF. It was not so much what he said and did that shows us what God is like; it is what he was.


What is our take away from the introduction to the book of Hebrews?

The revelation of God is complete in Jesus.  Jesus was fully God and God was presented in Jesus himself. Barclay states, “The prophets were the friends of God; but Jesus was the Son of God. The prophets grasped part of the mind of God; but Jesus WAS that mind.”

The author of Hebrews is not belittling or negating the messages and revelation given to the prophets in the Old Testament. His goal is to establish the utmost supremacy of Jesus Christ. He is also not saying there is a break between the O.T. revelation and that of the N.T. or that the revelation given in the Old Testament is no longer valid. He is stressing the fact that there is CONTINUITY between the two testaments and that continuity ends in the fulfillment and consummation of Jesus Christ!


A truth that stands out to me most from this lesson is the idea that the prophets only knew in part. God’s revelation throughout the Old Testament was a progressive revelation, an unfolding over time. When Jesus came, there was no more guessing or waiting. He was and is the fulfillment of the promises spoken of by the prophets. The different “fragments” of truth in the messages of the prophets find their place in Jesus. I know there are times in my life when I have felt a bit fragmented, even shattered at times. I find peace in knowing that as I am hidden in Christ, all the pieces of my life come together. In him is fullness of life. In him I find everything I need for healing and wholeness.

All Scripture references are taken from the New International Version.

Works Cited

Barclay, William, trans. The Letter to the Hebrews. Rev. ed. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976