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Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament

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Hebrews 1:3

Being (wn).
Absolute and timeless existence (present active participle of eimi) in contrast with genomenov in verse 4 like hn in John 1:1 (in contrast with egeneto in 1:14) and like uparxwn and genomenov in Philippians 2:6.

The effulgence of his glory (apaugasma thv doxhv).
The word apaugasma, late substantive from apaugazw, to emit brightness (augh, augazw in 2 Corinthians 4:4), here only in the N.T., but in Wisdom 7:26 and in Philo. It can mean either reflected brightness, refulgence (Calvin, Thayer) or effulgence (ray from an original light body) as the Greek fathers hold. Both senses are true of Christ in his relation to God as Jesus shows in plain language in John 12:45; 14:9. "The writer is using metaphors which had already been applied to Wisdom and the Logos" (Moffatt). The meaning "effulgence" suits the context better, though it gives the idea of eternal generation of the Son (John 1:1), the term Father applied to God necessarily involving Son. See this same metaphor in 2 Corinthians 4:6.

The very image of his substance (xarakthr thv upostasewv).
Xarakthr is an old word from xarassw, to cut, to scratch, to mark. It first was the agent (note ending =thr) or tool that did the marking, then the mark or impress made, the exact reproduction, a meaning clearly expressed by xaragma (Acts 17:29; Revelation 13:16). Menander had already used (Moffatt) xarakthr in the sense of our "character." The word occurs in the inscriptions for "person" as well as for "exact reproduction" of a person. The word upostasiv for the being or essence of God "is a philosophical rather than a religious term" (Moffatt). Etymologically it is the sediment or foundation under a building (for instance). In 11:1 ypostasiv is like the "title-deed" idea found in the papyri. Athanasius rightly used Hebrews 1:1-4 in his controversy with Arius. Paul in Philippians 2:5-11 pictures the real and eternal deity of Christ free from the philosophical language here employed. But even Paul's simpler phrase morph teou (the form of God) has difficulties of its own. The use of Logov in John 1:1-18 is parallel to Hebrews 1:1-4.

And upholding (perwn te).
Present active participle of perw closely connected with wn (being) by te and like Colossians 1:17 in idea. The newer science as expounded by Eddington and Jeans is in harmony with the spiritual and personal conception of creation here presented.

By the word of his power (twi rhmati thv dunamewv autou).
Instrumental case of rhma (word). See 11:3 for rhmati teou (by the word of God) as the explanation of creation like Genesis, but here autou refers to God's Son as in 1:2.

Purification of sins (katarismon twn amartiwn).
Katarismov is from katarizw, to cleanse (Matthew 8:3; Hebrews 9:14), here only in Hebrews, but in same sense of cleansing from sins, 2 Peter 1:9; Job 7:21. Note middle participle poihsamenov like euramenov in Hebrews 9:12. This is the first mention of the priestly work of Christ, the keynote of this Epistle.

Sat down (ekatisen).
First aorist active of katizw, "took his seat," a formal and dignified act.

Of the Majesty on high (thv megalosunhv en upshloiv).
Late word from megav, only in LXX (Deuteronomy 32:3; 2 Samuel 7:23, etc.), Aristeas, Hebrews 1:3; 8:1; Jude 1:25. Christ resumed his original dignity and glory (John 17:5). The phrase en upshloiv occurs in the Psalms (Psalms 93:4), here only in N.T., elsewhere en upsistoiv in the highest (Matthew 21:9; Luke 2:14) or en toiv epouranioiv in the heavenlies (Ephesians 1:3,20). Jesus is here pictured as King (Prophet and Priest also) Messiah seated at the right hand of God.

 


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Hebrews 1:3". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/rwp/view.cgi?book=heb&chapter=001&verse=003>. Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960.

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