1:1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors at many different times and in many different ways through the prophets.
The book of Hebrews opens by describing the manner in which God has been revealing Himself throughout the ages. The writer begins by declaring the timelessness of God’s message. In the past God spoke through the Prophets—messengers specially appointed to convey God’s message to His people. God spoke to His people in many ways. Through His Word He declared various aspects of His eternal message. This Word could be seen in Israel’s history, commandments, prophecies, revelations, judgments, and precepts, showing His chosen people how He wanted them to live. God conveyed His eternal truth to the temporal world through spoken words given by specifically appointed messengers.
1:2 In these last days he has spoken to us through his Son. God made his Son responsible for everything. His Son is the one through whom God made the universe.
At the time this letter was penned, God had spoken to the world through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Messiah and God’s anointed Messenger to Whom all the prophets of the Old Testament pointed. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life by Whom His chosen people come to God. He is Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, Provider, King, Prince of Peace, and Judge over the living and the dead. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He holds the key to everything in life and death—for all things throughout time and eternity. He is the Righteous One and the eternal Sacrifice Who perfected the Law and completely fulfilled its provisions.
Jesus is far more than an Old Testament prophet. He is far more than a Prophet Who is superior to other prophets. In the past, Jesus Christ Himself—God’s eternal Word—spoke through the Old Testament prophets as He appointed special messengers to do His bidding. As the perfect sinless man, Jesus is God’s only begotten Son—the Holy Child of the Holy One—Who continued to declare His Father’s Word throughout His earthly ministry. God gave His Son a name above all names and will at some future time cause every knee to bow before Him and every tongue to confess Him as the Lord. God glorified Jesus Christ above all things in His creation with His eternal glory. Jesus always had this glory with His Father before time ever began (John 17:5). Jesus Christ is God the Incarnate Son and the fullness of God resides in Him (Colossians 1:19). Nothing that was created was made without Him. Jesus Christ is the eternal Word of God and is the Word Who became flesh and dwelt among men to fulfill God’s plan of salvation (John 1:1–17).
1:3 His Son is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact likeness of God’s being. He holds everything together through his powerful
words. After he had cleansed people from their sins, he received the highest position, the one next to the Father in heaven.
Jesus Christ is God. He is God the Son and the express image of the fullness of God (Colossians 1:15). He is the brightness and excellence of God because He is God in His eternal Being. God spoke through Jesus since they, along with the Holy Spirit, are one. As God, Jesus Christ holds everything together by His Word and by His power (Colossians 1:16–17). As man, He became the holy, eternal sacrifice, conquering sin, death, hell, and the devil along with all evil forces by His death, burial, and resurrection. By His blood, He removed sin’s stain and cleansed His people from guilt and condemnation. As the Victor, He is seated at the right hand of the Father reigning forever over God’s eternal Kingdom. Since He is the exact likeness of God, Jesus is God’s living Word and His eternal spokesman.
1:4 The Son has become greater than the angels since he has been given a name that is superior to theirs.
As God’s Son, Jesus Christ has a supreme and unparalleled relationship with God His Father. Jesus Christ has always held this position, even before He left His throne in heaven and took the position of a servant, obeying His Father even to His death on the cross. Jesus alone died for the sins of the world. A host of angels could never do that. That is why Jesus is superior to the angels who serve God for eternity. God gave His Son Jesus a name above all names. God did that only for His Son Jesus. He is the only One Who conquered sin and death by obeying His Father. Even though the angels are sinless and holy, they are heavenly beings created by God to serve at His command. Jesus possesses the glory of His Father. All creation should bow in awe-filled reverence, unqualified deference, and worship.
1:5 God never said to any of his angels, “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father.” And God never said to any of his angels, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son.”
The Scriptures clearly and consistently speak of the excellence, supremacy, and preeminence of Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament Scriptures, God the Father acknowledges Jesus Christ to be His only begotten Son Whom He loved and in Whom He is well pleased (Psalm 2:7; 2 Samuel 7:14). God also acknowledged the same eternal truth about Jesus Christ at the time of His baptism at the Jordan River and at the Mount of Transfiguration when Jesus Christ appeared to Peter, John, and James in the brightness of His heavenly glory (Mark 1:11; Mark 9:7). God’s expression about Jesus Christ unveils the truth about Christ’s supremacy and His unique and unparalleled relationship with God, His Father. The Lord God never said these things about men or angels. It is reserved for Jesus Christ alone.
1:6 When God was about to send his firstborn Son into the world, he said, “All of God’s angels must worship him.”
The Old Testament Scriptures further affirm the supremacy of His Son Jesus Christ when they tell how the angels worshiped Him before He was ever born.
“You alone are the Lord. You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and the seas and everything in them. You preserve them all, and the angels of heaven worship you. (Nehemiah 9:6)
The Psalmist declares that God had commanded that all the angels worship God’s chosen One. As the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ is exalted above all kings and authorities. He is declared by His Father to be worthy of worship by angels and by men. Since God Himself exalted His Son, the supremacy of Jesus
Christ and the excellence of His glory are indisputably established on earth and in heaven for all eternity.
1:7 God said about the angels, “He makes his messengers winds. He makes his servants flames of fire.”
God determines the nature, character, and essence of His creation. The Lord rules both heaven and earth, using His angels as His messengers, declaring both His salvation and His judgment. The Lord made the angels ministering spirits swift as the wind (Psalm 104:4). Even though they are invisible, they are capable of visible action. He made them flaming fires, executing His judgment on the nations, always reflecting the glory of God Whom they serve and worship day and night. The supreme position of Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, and the subservient status of the angels have been determined forever by God.
The epistle to the Hebrews is a living testimonial to the supremacy of Jesus Christ. After reminding the Hebrews that God spoke to them through Moses and the prophets, the writer points them to God’s eternal Word—the everlasting voice of God the Almighty. Even though they were well informed in matters of prophecy, even though they were instructed to expect the Messiah, the Jews resisted Jesus Christ when He came to them as God’s holy Child born as the fulfillment of God’s spoken prophecy by the mouth of God’s anointed messengers.
In the past, God spoke through prophets who faithfully declared what God commissioned them to say. However, these prophets were mortal even though they were appointed by God to speak God’s Word to His people. God finally spoke with His own voice in the person of Jesus Christ Who was the fulfillment of the prophecy He declared through the prophets of old.
God revealed His truth and spoke to the world through Jesus Christ His Son through His virgin birth, righteous life, profound teaching, humble obedience, mighty miracles, quiet solitude, loving surrender, redeeming sacrifice, painful death, victorious resurrection, spectacular ascension, and certain return. Nevertheless, the Jews resisted God’s Son and failed to recognize their promised Messiah. God’s Word affirms that Jesus Christ is the Creator, the judge over the living and the dead, the eternal King, and the triumphant Lord. But His own people failed to acknowledge Him as Lord. The prophet Isaiah said that the child born to Israel and the nations would have the government upon His shoulders. In other words, this Gift would rule the nations. He would be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Yet, the Jewish people, who were well versed with these prophecies, denied the truth about Jesus Christ. Even though the people of Jesus’s day saw Him, talked with Him, and witnessed His miracles, even though God openly acknowledged that He was pleased with
His Son Jesus Christ, the children of Israel and their leaders turned a deaf ear to God’s voice. They could not
see the presence of God’s Anointed Who walked among them. Do we treat God’s Son any differently? Jesus Christ is not one among many. He is the only Supreme One. Do we in faith, life, and worship recognize Jesus Christ as God, Lord, King, Savior, and the Lamb of God Who took away our sins? By God’s mercy may we avoid making the same mistake as others have. Let us embrace the One Who is the Eternal Creator as well as our personal Savior.
1:1–2 1From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will. To God’s holy and faithful people who are united with Christ in the city of Ephesus. 2Good will and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are yours!
Paul introduced his letter to the Ephesians with a salutation that was common in letters written in his time and culture. However, his ad- dress was not given in the language of his day. Rather, it was delivered in the framework of the Christian faith. He unashamedly pointed to God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ His Son, effectively reflect- ing the Jewish and Christian perspectives of the eternal God and Jesus Christ as complementary aspects of a single expression of faith.
Paul identified himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ. He also told them that his apostleship was established by God’s sovereign will. It was not a position he earned or for which he was qualified. Rather, it was God’s appointment that was divinely determined even before Paul was born (Galatians 1:15–17).
Paul described the Ephesians as God’s people, holy, faithful, and united in Christ. The message God gave to Paul in this letter was presented to believers who were already mature in their faith. They already possessed the grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. They had already grown in the faith, and Paul considered them to be holy and faithful people fully united with Jesus Christ. They were holy because they were the temple of God in which His Holy Spirit lived. They were faithful because the faith of Jesus Christ was instilled in them by the power of the Author and Finisher of their faith. In the context of a mature and well-developed faith, God directly and personally sent this message to the believers in Ephesus.
1:3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through Christ, God has blessed us with every spiritual bless- ing that heaven has to offer.
Following his warm salutation, Paul broke into a joyful doxology of praise. He offered this praise to God on behalf of the redeemed, thanking Him for the blessings He gives to His children through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ His Son. God holds nothing back from those whom He chooses to save through Jesus Christ. By receiving the full- ness of heaven’s spiritual blessings in Jesus Christ, the redeemed came into a heavenly position of becoming joint heirs with Jesus Christ as the recipients of the entirety of God’s gift (Romans 8:17). Paul wanted the Ephesians to know that they are not only holy, faithful, and united in Christ, but also are divinely favored children of God fully accepted into the heavenly inheritance of God’s grace, His good will, the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the full measure of God’s blessings.
1:4 Before the creation of the world, he chose us through Christ to be holy and perfect in his presence.
God bestowed the fullness of His heavenly riches on the redeemed ac- cording to His eternal purpose. God’s decision to save sinners was not a reaction to man’s sin or because of the death of His Son. God never reacts to any situation or event. He is never surprised by anything that happens in the world that He has created. Rather, it was a carefully ordained, planned, and accomplished eternal event executed before time began.
Before He created the world, God made a timeless decision to save a people for Himself who would be holy and perfect through the holi- ness and perfection of His holy and perfect Son, Jesus Christ. Then, at the exact moment God had determined, He executed this plan according to a specific process through which God’s eternal will was revealed to the people of the world in time and space (Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 1:1–3).
1:5–6 5Because of his love he had already decided to adopt us through Jesus Christ. He freely chose to do this 6so that the kindness he had given us in his dear Son would be praised and given glory.
God’s sovereign determination to save a people for Himself is not just a demonstration of His authority. His authority is incontestable. Rather, His redemption is executed in the framework of His love, mercy, and grace. His love, mercy, and grace are marvelously displayed in His de- cision to adopt those whom He chooses to be His redeemed children in Jesus Christ. He ordained those whom He chose to see His grace revealed in Jesus Christ and praise His Name for the gift of their salva- tion. God’s adopts those whom He chooses simply as an act of His love and His grace, executed freely out of His pleasure. It is just an awesome phenomenon, which He was pleased to do. Amazingly, this was accom- plished exactly as He determined. He made those whom He loved and chose to be acceptable to Himself in, through, and for the sake of His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is a type of general circular correspon- dence sent to show believers the mystery of their salvation in Jesus Christ. Paul, who was God’s appointed apostle to the Gentiles, saluted the Ephesians in the grace and peace of God our Father and His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He reminded them that they were holy, faithful, and united in Christ because of what God did in their hearts by the power of His Spirit.
Paul wanted the Ephesians to understand their salvation as the outcome of God’s sovereign plan. Their salvation was the unavoid- able and irresistible essence of God’s timeless determination regard- ing those whom He chose to redeem for Himself. It is the divine expression of God’s sovereign will accomplished without any consul- tation with anyone outside of God Himself. It is a ruling that was pronounced in eternity past before any form of existence other than Himself was ever a reality.
God decided to lavish the riches of His love, grace, and mercy upon those whom He chose to be the objects of His favor.
God’s redemption is not confined to the functional rescue of the lost from deserved judgment. But it is God’s gift of the full measure of His blessings in Jesus Christ to those who are chosen for such heav- enly favor. The gift is not earned. Nor is it merited by an anticipated or foreseen faith or qualification. It is given out of God’s pleasure and good will. It is not given as a result of any human effort. It is given only by God through the merit of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. God’s redemption is the divine expression of His love, mercy, grace, good will, and peace, effectively generating His holiness, perfection, faith, and unity in the lives of God’s redeemed children. The Ephesians were exposed to the truth of their salvation so that they would know and appreciate the inexplicable extent of God’s blessings given to them. All believers across the ages join the Ephesian Christians in praise of God’s measureless grace.