“Thank you everyone for attending this annual staff appreciation banquet. On behalf of the Deutsch Bank of America, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone that works so hard in the past year in order to keep our business going in full force. Tonight the Deutsch Bank would like to present the award, besides the regular bonus, to two top employees that demonstrated the impeccable team work and the superlative performance of the year. I would like to call upon our two Vice Presidents, Allison Roche and Daphne McCallum. They will get a 14-day trip to Western Europe, as well as a VIP vacation package in our exclusive resort in Germany……” Applause broke out long and loud while the two ladies stepped up to receive their honor from the CEO.
Allison and Daphne were not just perfect comrades in business; they were also good friends, sharing common interests and perspectives of life; even though they were a bit different in their faith. Allison was a pious Catholic and Daphne was born into a Baptist family. Allison always complained about how unsupportive her husband was, leaving her to take care of the kids’ business, the family chores and at the same time, lived her life as a successful career woman. Daphne always provided a shoulder for her to lean on, listened to her problems sympathetically and offered to pray for her mishap.
It was the fourth day of the tour; they were visiting the renowned Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. It was situated on the Cité Island, with the Pont-Neuf Bridge overlooking the beautiful Seine River. Thanks to the Disney movie “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, everyone got some background regarding the Cathedral. Notre-Dame indeed dated back to the 13th century and was one of the masterpieces of Gothic art in Western Europe. The stain glass three rose windows were just magnificent and the huge interior were really stunning artistic experiences. There was a great organ which, with its one hundred and thirteen stops and eight thousand pipes, was probably the most powerful instrument in Europe. While they were appreciating the majestic artwork, Allison couldn’t stop gazing at the panels right below the grand organ. They were panels of wood sculptures, including angels………Suddenly Allison felt a strong urge to pray her daily guardian angel prayer, she knelt down immediately and started praying, “Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom His love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.”
Daphne did not feel that it’s right to pray to angel. After pondering for a while, she said, “Allison, we seldom seriously talk about our faith, however, would you mind if I ask you a few questions regarding it?” “Sure, why not?” Allison resumed her standing posture and they started walking toward the North Tower. “Who die for you so that you could live? Who created the universe and the spiritual beings including angels? When Jesus taught us how to pray in the gospel of Matthew, who did He say we should address to? Who are angels?” “Wow, Daphne, that’s many questions! Do you know that we are on vacation right now? I don’t need to answer your request. Seriously, I have never thought about that before, do you have any answers?” “Well, Allison, it’s all in the Bible, we could go over Hebrews chapter one tonight while we are back in the hotel. Maybe you could find out the answers yourself!”
Your Initial Response
So, what are your answers?
1In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways,
2but 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.
3The 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.
4So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
5For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”?
6And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”
7In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.”
8But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
9You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”
10He also says, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.
11They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.
12You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.”
13To which of the angels did God ever say, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?
14Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
(Hebrews 1:1–14 NIV)
1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.
2 Underline all the words that are related with time.
3 Number the attributes of God’s Son in ascending order.
4 Find out the number of Old Testament quotations that the author used. For instance, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” (Heb. 1:5) Please number them in ascending order. If possible, find out the occurrences in the Old Testament.
2) “Expound” (E)
iEXP Bible Study Method
Jesus Christ was not an ordinary person; therefore, the author of the Book of Hebrews compared various characters with Him for a special purpose, with the intention to reveal His eminent identity.
1 What is the meaning of “in these last days” (Heb. 1:2)?
2 What is “the radiance of God’s glory” (Heb. 1:3)?
3 What is “the exact representation of his being” (Heb. 1:3)?
4 What is the significance of “at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Heb. 1:3)?
5 Why is the name of God’s Son more superior to angels (Heb. 1:4)?
In the Book of Hebrews, the author gave a detailed introduction of the supreme identity of Jesus Christ at great length. Jesus Christ is not only superior to God’s spokesperson the prophets (Heb. 1:1-3), He is also superior to the status of the angels who maneuver in the spiritual realm (Heb. 1:4-14; 2:5-18). Furthermore, the Heroes of the Israelites Moses and Joshua are far more inferior to the status of Jesus Christ (Heb. 4:8-10). As for the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, He is not only the supreme high priest (Heb. 4:14-10:18), but it also the Originator and Perfecter of the Christian faith (Heb. 12:2), for His faith is most superior of all. In the end of the book, the author pointed out that He is the great Shepherd of the sheep, meaning that Jesus Christ is the most eminent shepherd of all time (Heb. 13:20-21).
In the past generations, God chose the prophets as His spokesperson, speaking to humankind through them. The literal meaning of “in these last days” is “on the last of these days.” It might be interpreted as the advent of the Messiah (Num. 24:14; Jer. 33:14–16; Mic. 5:1,2; Zech. 9:9,16), and this age is inaugurated by Jesus Christ Himself. In the past, God spoke to humankind through various prophets; however, He used His Son to reveal His intention in these last days. God revealed unceasingly to mankind in the past history, but only revealed His eternal plan in these last days. In other words, God’s Son is superior to all prophets, that is to say, He is “the most eminent Spokesperson.”
In verse 2, there are three points that we need to take heed. First, God’s Son is the final revelation. Second, God’s Son is the ultimate heir of all things (Is. 9:6, 7; Mic. 5:2). As Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, thus He will rule over everyone and everything (Rom. 4:13; Rev. 11:15). Third, Jesus Christ is the Lord of all created things (Jn. 1:1-5).
Heb. 1:3 “the radiance of God’s glory”
God’s Son is “the radiance of God’s glory,” meaning that the being, nature, character, power and acts of Christ emits the splendor of God (John 1:18; 12:45; 14:9; 2 Cor. 4:6; Col. 1:15). In simple terms, He is God Himself.
Heb. 1:3 “the exact representation of his being”
The author of Hebrews directly pointed out that Jesus Christ was God’s “exact representation,” meaning that He is the “exact representation” of God, and it can be compared to the exact impression of the stamping instrument. In essence, the Heavenly Father and God’s Son possess divine nature respectively, as means to illustrate that God’s Son is God. Moreover, the Heavenly Father and God’s Son are two different Persons, meaning that the Heavenly Father is not God’s Son. Through the revelation of Jesus Christ, humankind can perceive God’s real “being.” In other words, Jesus Christ is “the most eminent Revelator.”
Heb. 1:3 “sustaining all things by his powerful word”
English Standard Version translates it as “he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” Jesus Christ is not only “the Creator of the universe” (Jn. 1:1-3), and He is also “the Sustainer of the universe” (Col. 1:17).
Heb. 1:3 “After he had provided purification for sins”
The work of the high priests in the Old Testament was purification of sins, and Jesus Christ was the most eminent high priest. The first advent of Jesus Christ was to accomplish the salvation of humankind. Through the redemption on the cross, Jesus Christ purified all the sins of those who believed in Him as Saviour, meaning that He is “the most eminent Saviour.”
Heb. 1:3 “he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven”
The right side signifies an image of the ultimate honor. The Lord Jesus sits at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven now; it not only points out that He is “the most eminent One” but it is also an indication that He has already accomplished the salvation of humankind.
In the world of the New Testament, the name has great significance, for it concisely sums up all that a person is. Jesus Christ possesses “the most eminent Name”, thus His name is superior to the angels. As to the supremacy of Jesus Christ, the author of Hebrews referred to seven Old Testament verses to make the point.
“You are my Son; today I have become your Father” (Ps. 2:7). In the Old Testament, God also called angels (Ps. 29:1; 89:6) and Israel His sons (Ex. 4:22; Hos. 11:1), but He never apply this name to an individual. The name of God’s Son is superior to the angels because only He Himself is the Messiah who could overcome death (Acts 13:33).
“I will be his Father, and he will be my Son” (2 Sam. 7:14). Only God and Christ have shared the father-son relationship, and angels and God do not share this extraordinary relationship between them.
“And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world” can be translated as “But when He again brings the firstborn into the world” (NKJV), meaning that the second advent of Christ. “Let all God’s angels worship him” at that time. Jesus Christ is superior to the angels, for even the angels have to worship Him.
“He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire.” (Ps. 104:4, NIV) In simple terms, angels are just servants of God, thus they are without equal to God’s Son.
Heb. 1:9-9 is a quotation from Ps. 45:6-7. As for God’s Son, He not only possesses the eternal kingdom, and His royal power is expressed in righteousness. All kings are anointed with oil, but God anointed the Messiah King with the oil of joy. Therefore, Christ is superior to all of the past Israelite kings.
The scripture here comes from Ps. 102：25-27. The author not only wants to point out that God’s Son is the Creator, but He is unchallengeable as well.
Theauthor quoted Ps. 110:1, thus pointed out that the Heavenly Father had made the enemies of Christ as His Son’s footstool which He has never treated the angels like that before. God ordained the angels as ministering spirits, and they are sent to serve those who will inherit salvation. God’s Son is superior to the angels, for only He is the Victor that God ordained.
There are no created beings on earth and heaven that can compare with Christ, for only He is the Creator and Saviour. By receiving Jesus Christ as Saviour, all those who believe in Him will become God’s children; therefore, the identity of Christians is most eminent among all created things.
3) “Exercise” (X)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 All earthly deities are false gods, and only Jesus Christ is God.
2 Memorise Hebrews 1:3-4.
3 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. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
3 The identity of Christians is very noble; therefore, we must resolve to live our life to reveal Christ’s character.
4 Resolve to be familiar with the life of Christ as ways of knowing His eminent life.
5 Pay attention to the work of Jesus Christ on other believers, so that we can attain more spiritual knowledge to experience Him further.
6 Jesus Christ is unchangeable (Heb. 1:10-12); therefore, we must learn to love the ones who surround us with unchanging love.
4) “Proclaim” (P)
By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.
iEXP Bible Study Method
After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.