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Hebrews 1


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#1 Evangelion

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 12:25 PM

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
The word translated "worlds" here is the Greek aion, meaning "ages." It does not refer to a literal creation, or literal "worlds." Instead, it refers to specific periods of time.

Thus:Hebrews 9:26
For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world [aion] hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Christ appeared at the end of an age; not at the end of the literal world. This distinction is confirmed by the author’s use of a different word in the phrase “the foundation of the world [kosmos]” which clearly refers to the literal creation.

Authoritative support comes from Marvin R. Vincent in his Word Studies of the New Testament:In the end of the world (ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν αἰώνων)
In N.T συντέλεια consummation, always with αἰὼν age. With the plural αἰώσων only here. Everywhere else συντέλεια αἰῶνος.

The A.V. gives a wrong impression as of the end of this visible world. The true sense is the consummation of the ages: that is to say, Christ appeared when the former ages had reached their moral consummation under the old Levitical economy. Comp. Hebrews 1:2.
Vincent helpfully directs us back to Hebrews 1:2, where he wishes us to understand that the same sense is intended.

So the meaning of this verse is that Christ is the agent through whom certain ages were delineated from each other and – ultimately – consummated, or brought to fulfillment. The same idea occurs in John 1:10 (see here) and Colossians 1 (here.)

Edited by Evangelion, 30 August 2004 - 11:11 AM.

'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#2 Evangelion

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 12:32 PM

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had
by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
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.
The author continues his praise of the Son with a repeated emphasis on the pre-eminence of Christ over the rest of God’s creation. Thus far, he has taken care to identify each new reference to the Son, with each new reference taken from a different Old Testament passage.

Any analysis of the text must be guided by this observation.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#3 Evangelion

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 12:34 PM

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 for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
The application of “God” (Greek: theos) to Jesus is claimed by Trinitarians to be proof that the Son is God himself. But the original context of this quote (which is taken from Psalm 45:6-7, where it refers to a Jewish king) shows that this was not the author’s intention.

Hence the following footnote in the New American Bible:
O god: the king, in courtly language, is called "god," i.e., more than human, representing God to the people. Hebrews 1:8-9 applies Psalm 45:7-8 to Christ.
Likewise the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament:
…since elsewhere earthly authorities are also called אלהים, Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:7., Psalm 82:1-8, cf. Psalm 138:1, because they are God's representatives and the bearers of His image upon earth, so the king who is celebrated in this Psalm may be all the more readily styled Elohim, when in his heavenly beauty, his irresistible doxa or glory, and his divine holiness, he seems to the psalmist to be the perfected realization of the close relationship in which God has set David and his seed to Himself.

He calls him אלהים, just as Isaiah calls the exalted royal child whom he exultingly salutes in Psalm 9:1-6, אל־גּבּור. He gives him this name, because in the transparent exterior of his fair humanity he sees the glory and holiness of God as having attained a salutary of merciful conspicuousness among men.

At the same time, however, he guards this calling of the king by the name Elohim against being misapprehended by immediately distinguishing the God, who stands above him, from the divine king by the words “Elohim, thy God,” which, in the Korahitic Psalms, and in the Elohimic Psalms in general, is equivalent to Jahve, thy God” (Psa_43:4; 48:15; Psa_50:7); and the two words are accordingly united by Munach.
Trinitarian commentators agree with this interpretation, but almost invariably claim that in Hebrews 1 the same honorific “proves” that Jesus is truly God.

This is the fallacy of special pleading and may be dismissed without further comment.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#4 Evangelion

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 12:35 PM

As we approach verse 10, we see that the author is about to present a new OT passage. If this is intended to be a reference to the Son, we can expect (if our author is consistent) to find at least one of the following identifiers:
  • "And again..."

  • "But unto the Son he saith..."

  • For unto which of the angels said he at any time..."
Do we find any such identifier?
And [Greek: kai], Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:
No, we do not. Do we have a new passage of Scripture? Yes, we do. But do we have an explicit reference to the Son, as we did with every one of the previous examples? No, we do not.

Logically, then, this doxology must refer to the Father.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#5 Evangelion

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 12:36 PM

But the use of "and" (kai) in verse 10 appears to preclude this interpretation, for it seems to append the doxology to the previous verse (which contains an unambiguous reference to the Son) thereby implying that he was responsible for the Genesis creation.

Yet the citation itself comes from Psalm 102:25, where these words were not actually spoken by the Father of the Son, but by King David of the Father.

So our dilemma is twofold:
  • The creation of the literal world is ascribed to Christ.

  • The author of Hebrews has contradicting Scripture by claiming that a statement which was clearly made by King David in reference to the Father, was instead made by the Father in reference to the Son.
Notice that even if we were to accept the Trinitarian reading and conclude that the Son was indeed responsible for the Genesis creation, we would still be left with the unresolved problem of a blatant misquote by an inspired writer. It is therefore not enough to say claim (as Trinitarians do) that the issue is resolved by accepting the deity of Christ, for this completely ignores the apparent misquote and makes no attempt to explain it.

How, then, do we explicate this verse?
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#6 Evangelion

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 12:37 PM

Our first clue that this cannot be a statement by the Father of the Son comes (as we have seen) from the original context of the quote:
Psalm 102:1-4
Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee.
Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily.
For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth.
My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread.
These are the opening verses of the psalm in question. The title of the psalm is A prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD (which precludes any suggestion that God Himself might be speaking at any stage) and the author is obviously King David.

Throughout the entire song, only one speaker appears – and the identity of that speaker never changes. This means that the person who, at the start of the psalm, says…
Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee. (Etc.)
…is the same person who later says:
Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. (Etc.)

'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#7 Evangelion

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 12:38 PM

Our second clue comes from the mode of address which introduces David’s appeal in verses 24-27:
I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations.
Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.
They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:
But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.
How can this possibly be a statement by the Father to the Son, as the Trinitarian interpretation of Hebrews 1:10 insists? Is it really feasible that the Father would address the Son as “My God” – or even “Lord”, as we find in Hebrews 1:10? Is it really feasible that the Father would say “Take me not away in the midst of my days”? Is it really feasible that the Father would pray to the Son at all?

The very idea is preposterous – and yet it remains an inescapable consequence of the Trinitarian interpretation.

In their defence Trinitarians will most likely argue that only verses 25-27 are intended to be taken as spoken by the Father – but this proposition is equally problematic, for…
  • It wrenches the words out of context.

  • It arbitrarily ignores verse 24 (without which the appeal has no clear recipient.)

  • It still fails to account for the New Testament author’s humble address in Hebrews 1:10 (“…thou, Lord”) which – if we follow the Trinitarian interpretation – constitutes an unprecedented show of deference by the Father to the Son!
There is, therefore, no plausible escape route for the Trinitarian interpretation. On every side it faces a self-contradiction, a Scriptural contradiction, a theological contradiction or a blatant resort to special pleading.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#8 Evangelion

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 12:39 PM

Our third clue comes from the word that is customarily translated “and” at the beginning of verse 10: the Greek word kai.

Kai is usually translated “and”, for this is the form that it most frequently takes. But there are many exceptions to the rule, for kai it can also mean "but", "so", "also", "if", "moreover", "even", "that", "then", "for", "indeed", or "likewise."

If we read kai as "but" in verse 10 (as opposed to the traditional “and”) the author's intention becomes clear, his apparent contradiction vanishes and the passage finally begins to make sense.

Thus:But Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:
However, since New Testament Greek already has a word that is most frequently translated "but" (deh), it could be argued that the translation of kai as "but" in this verse is insupportable. This objection appears to gain strength when we note that deh is used as "but" in verses 8 and 13 (where the context clearly supports it.)

Moreover, if the author was in the habit of using deh to denote "but" and kai to denote "and", is it really feasible that he might use the latter in place of the former – or even vice versa?

Indeed it is, for in verse 6 of the same chapter, the author of Hebrews uses deh as synonymous with kai.

Thus:And [deh] again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
The same construction occurs in Hebrews 3:10, 3:18, 6:11, 7:2, 7:7, 9:3, 9:5, 10:33, 11:35, 11:36, 12:6, 12:27 and 13:22.

The author also makes alternative use of kai in many places throughout his epistle, employing it variously to denote "also", "even", "now", "when", "they" and "it is."

With this in mind it becomes obvious that there is no valid objection to the translation of kai as "but" in verse 10 (rather than the traditional "and.") Although it is unusual for kai to be used in this way, it is nevertheless grammatically valid. Certainly, the mere existence of an unusual construction is not sufficient to preclude the non-Trinitarian interpretation.

Additional support is found in the New English Translation, which translates John 1:10 in the following way:He was in the world, and the world was created by him, but the world did not recognize him.
The customary translation is "and", but the translators of the NET defend their gloss in a footnote:Grk “and,” but in context this is an adversative use of kaiv (kai) and is thus translated “but.”
From this we see that the same translation is equally justifiable in Hebrews 1:10, which employs the adversative use of kai to contrast the supremacy of the Father against the exalted position of the Son and the lesser role of the angels.

Edited by Evangelion, 22 August 2004 - 03:35 PM.

'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#9 Evangelion

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 12:40 PM

This interpretation now presents us with a spontaneous address to God (as opposed to the previous verses, which merely spoke of Him) that some might dismiss as too awkward to be plausible.

But that is not a legitimate objection, for there are many passages throughout Scripture in which this very same device is employed.

Thus:Psalm 23
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Here David switches – without warning – between a general narrative and a direct address, just as the author of Hebrews 1 does. Although odd when viewed through our modern eyes, it is certainly not unusual for Scripture to do this.

Edited by Evangelion, 22 August 2004 - 03:37 PM.

'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#10 Evangelion

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 12:42 PM

So the author continues:
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.
Some Trinitarians will claim that there is no new address until verse 13. This is not true, because as we have seen, the author writes “But, thou, Lord” – referring to the Father. If verses 10-12 were intended as references to the Son, we would need to see one of the explicit identifiers which the author has already employed; but we do not.

Even when we do arrive at verse 13, the author takes care to inform us that he is now talking about the Son, thereby demonstrating the consistency of his literary style. Why would he do this if verses 10-12 were also references to the Son?

It wouldn't make any sense.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#11 Evangelion

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 12:44 PM

But to 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?
Verse 10 contrasts the supremacy of the Father over the Son. It was the Father (not the Son) Who created all things.

If we ascribe the literal creation to the Son (not the Father), the author's entire point is lost and the consistency of his heavenly hierarchy (angels -> Christ -> God) breaks down.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#12 Evangelion

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 12:47 PM

Any doubt that verse 10 might refer to the Son is dismissed when we consider the record of Scripture:
  • Exodus 20:11
    For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is…

  • Nehemiah 9:6
    Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.

  • Psalm 33:6
    By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

  • Psalm 102:25
    Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.

  • II Kings 19:15
    And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.

  • Isaiah 42:5
    Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:

  • Isaiah 44:24
    Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;

  • Isaiah 48:13
    Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.

  • Isaiah 51:13
    And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth.

  • Isaiah 64:8
    But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

  • Jeremiah 32:17
    Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.

  • Jeremiah 27:5
    I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me.

  • Jeremiah 51:15
    He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding.

  • Zechariah 12:1
    The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.

'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#13 Evangelion

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 12:53 PM

  • Mathew 19:4
    And [Jesus] answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

  • Revelation 4:11
    Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

  • Revelation 14:7
    Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters...
The Matthew reference is significant, for it confirms that Jesus acribed the creation of the literal world to someone other than himself.

The Revelation references are equally significant, for they ascribe the creation of the literal world to "him that sat upon the throne." We know that this is the Father, for He is carefully delineated from the Lamb (Christ) who stands before Him in Revelation 5:7, 5:13 and 14:10.

At no time is Jesus credited with the Genesis creation.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#14 Evangelion

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 12:56 PM

Matching Scripture with Scripture - holding fast to the principles of Biblical inerrancy and textual consistency - we discover that the Trinitarian reading of Hebrews 1 is totally unfounded.

Indeed, it demands a radical departure from the message of the Old Testament (a message which Jesus himself had personally confirmed) and the ultimate confirmation of the Father's supremacy in "the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass."

Edited by Evangelion, 16 August 2004 - 12:57 PM.

'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.




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