THE UNIQUENESS OF GOD’S SPEAKING IN HIS SON UNDERSCORED (vss 2b-4) (continued)
This uniqueness of God’s speaking in his Son is also set forth in bold relief in the exalted place which the Son has been appointed, and which he has received through his death and resurrection and his glorious exaltation at the right hand of God.
Perhaps it can be helpful for a correct understanding of this mystery of godliness to call attention to the grammatical construction in Greek text. It is quite evident from the text that the sitting down at the right hand of the Majesty of God is dependent upon Christ’s work on the Cross. God did not simply exalt His Son at His right hand by His might apart from history, apart from the Fall, the history of sin and grace in the world. Cross and crown are connected; Christ is perfected through suffering of death. He is exalted in no other way. This is made abundantly clear in the Greek text. The tenses in the Greek participle having purged (katharismon . . . poieesamenos) and the aorist tense of the verb to sit down (ekathisen) indicate that this is looked at as one act of the Son; the one is not apart from the other. The use of the participle here also indicates that the purging away of sin is basic to the sitting down at God’s right hand. In Ephesians, Chapter 1, Paul also presents the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ as one act of God.
Furthermore, we ought to notice that there is an inner connection between such purging away of sin by Christ himself and his exaltation, and what the writer says about the person and identity of the Son. This purging on the Cross is performed by him who is “upholding all things by the word of his power.” Here too the grammar is important. The verb form for “upholding” is present active, masculine, nominative participle. He is constantly upholding all things by the word of his power. All things were made by him, and nothing was made that was not made by Him. And thus too there is nothing now existing in heaven or on earth but what exists by his word of power; his is the providential power that upholds all things. He holds the entire world in his hand. Such is this Son. And this he can do because he is the one “being” the expressed image of God’s being, the effulgence of God’s glory. This is evident from the relationship of the two participles “being” (oon) and “bearing” (pheroon). Being what he is bears the world by the word of his power. This inner connection is brought out very strongly by the Greek text which has really a word which gives us the duty to paraphrase “Since he is the one being the expressed image of God’s being, there he also is the one upholding all things by the word of his power.” What Christ does in creation and in recreation is due to his being the expressed image of God’s being. He is very God in the flesh.
This all points up the uniqueness of God’s speaking in the Son. For we are here taught that the Son is not simply the effulgence of God’s glory in the inner-Trinitarian life, as the One begotten of the Father, but that this Christ in the flesh is also this same effulgence of God’s glory, the expressed image of his being. He who denies this is anti-Christ. He has no mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace. He has a mere man on the Cross, and such a mere man never arose from the dead and went and sat down on the right hand of God. Yes, this Son is the effulgence of God’s power, revealed in the word of his power, in all of creation. He is such as the Logos not in the flesh but in creation and in the guidance and control of history. He is this equally in the work in redemption. It is the effulgence of God’s glory which we see in Christ when he by himself purges sins, and in consequence of this sits down on the right hand of God. In him all the lines meet because from him they proceed. All things were made by him and unto him. (Colossians 1:16b) Thus he is the Firstborn of all creatures as the Firstborn out of the dead.
Such is the greatness of the Son of God in the flesh. And in these last days the Son has been exalted and glorified with the glory which he had with the Father before the foundation of the world in God’s counsel. His is the Name above every name. The “name” of Christ here refers to his place in all of creature hood in heaven and on earth. And to demonstrate this greatness the Son is not compared with a worm or an ant, but he is compared with the greatest of the celestial beings: the angels, who do always behold the face of God. He has received a Name greater than all, far above all principality, powers and might. He is given as Head over all things and creatures to the church.
In this Son in creation and recreation the God and Father of us has spoken in these last days. For this Son is one who has “inherited” a name. He is the Heir-Son. In him history finds its consummation and close. Until he comes all things are open-ended. But now the fulfillment has come. Such is the grand theme of the book of Hebrews. For this Heir is the King-Priest after the Order of Melchisedec.
“For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou has loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. But unto which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them, who shall be heirs of salvation?”
THE WRITER’S PROOF FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES
Except for one passage quoted from II Samuel 7:14 all the proof for the greatness of the Son at God’s right hand is taken from the Psalms. The writer quotes passages that serve his purpose from no less than six different Psalms. Even the quotation from II Samuel 7:14 may be found in Psalm 89:26-27. Therefore we may confidently affirm that all the proof of Christ’s exaltation and of having a name than which there is none greater is derived from the Psalms.
A remarkable understanding of the Psalms is taught us here by the writer to the Hebrews. Here we have some good examples and case studies of the Biblical rules for exegesis, that is, for the science of interpretation as applied to the Scriptures. No Philo need be our guide; we need not compare the writings of Philo, the Alexandrian Jew, with the book of Hebrews to understand the latter. We need simply to understand that all the Old Testament Scriptures speak of this Son of God; we need to see the Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures. Did not Jesus, after his resurrection, teach his disciples concerning Moses, the Psalms and all the prophets? And did he not show from them how the Christ must suffer, and rise the third day out of the dead, and that upon his name repentance unto the forgiveness of sins must be preached to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem? (Luke 24:44-45) And when he by his Spirit had opened their minds, did they not thus understand these Scriptures?
These various quotations from the Psalms do not constitute a mere hodge-podge of religious sentiments; they are not a collation of unrelated sayings rather haphazardly thrown together. On the contrary when we study these passages we see that the writer, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, shows three rather distinctive view-points of the exaltedness of Christ at God’s right hand.
CHRIST’S RELATIONSHIP TO GOD AND TO ALL THINGS PROVEN FROM THE PSALMS
The Psalms in question here are Psalm 2:7 and Psalm 89:26-27. (II Samuel 7:14). When the writer quotes there two Psalms he will show that he is solely interested in the Word of God as we have this in the sacred Old Testament Canon. And the starting-point of the proof is what God “ever” said. He refers, of course, to what God ever said in the Scriptures through the prophets to the fathers of old time. Psalmists too are prophets; they utter the prophetic word which is most sure. Outside of this word of prophecy God has never spoken. Well, then, where has He in all the Scriptures spoken to angels as he speaks to His Son in the Scriptures.
He begins with Psalm 2:7 which is a classic passage in the Scriptures. This passage is quoted in the New Testament by Paul in Acts 13:33 and again by the writer inHebrews 5:5. The remarkable thing is that the Psalmist here stands in the midst of the nations and of the heathen who imagine a vain thing; they imagine that they can cast off the dominion of the God of heaven. They take counsel against the LORD and against his Anointed one. Then the Lord laughs with Divine laughter; He will have them in derision. For God’s counsel will stand and He will perform His good pleasure. God has a Decree; His eternal Counsel according to which He works all things. And in that Decree the Son is destined in the way of suffering, through his death and resurrection, to be exalted at God’s right hand. History is the theatre in which God is bringing His Son to glory, and this is the “begetting” of the Son from the womb of God’s counsel. That is all that is born from that Counsel; and all the imagination of the nations are birth pangs which do not bring forth anything like a Son; such alone is the prerogative of the Most High God!
Such a place is not destined for the angels in God’s Testament. When God writes the book of the Old Testament he only speaks of one Heir. The angels may look down in rapt attention upon this work, but they are never sons; they are always the high and exalted attendants of the throne. But God never says: history and all things revolved about and are centered in you, the angels. Take the angels, great and mighty, Cherubims and Seraphims, Gabriel or Michael; there is none found in heaven and on earth to whom God speaks as He does in Psalm 2:7. The Son inherits a Name above every name in the Scriptures everywhere. Thus we read in Psalm 2:7. Vainly would one engage in tiresome and fruitless labor to search the Scriptures for a contradiction of this Word of God; a Word in which He so confidently laughs in holy and Divine delight.