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 (Hebrews 1:1–2).
The first paragraph of the Epistle gives a summary view of its main subject, the finality of the absolute Revelation in Christ as contrasted with the preparatory revelation under the Old Covenant.
The Law And The Gospel
But in this diversity he still sets before us but one God, that no one might think that the Law militates against the Gospel, or that the author of the one is not the author of the other.
The pronoun us refers directly to the Jews of that age, to which class belonged both the writer and his readers; but the statement is equally true in reference to all, in every succeeding age, to whom the word of this salvation comes. God, in the completed revelation of his will, respecting the salvation of men through Christ Jesus, is still speaking to all who have an opportunity of reading the New Testament or of hearing the Gospel. The Christian revelation is to be traced to the same origin as the Jewish revelation. It is the same God that speaks to us, who speaks to the fathers; and as that God is one, the two revelations must be harmonious. The Law cannot be against the Promise.
In that revelation of the divine will which the Bible contains, we have a series of communications, stretching through a course of many centuries, conveyed through individuals of different habits, tastes, education and talents, and characterized by the greatest variety of form and style. Amid all this diversity, however, of outward circumstances, the great Author of the whole remained from the first to the last the same. By whomsoever the message was borne to men, whether by patriarchs or prophets, or by the Son of God Himself; at whatever period it was announced, whether in the early dawn of the world’s history, or after “the fulness of the time” had already come; and in whatever form it appeared, whether clothed in symbols, or conveyed in the language of direct communication; whether set forth by some silent, yet significant type, or proclaimed by the living voice of some gifted seer; whether uttered in brief and naked terms, or wrapt in the gorgeous mantle of impassioned poetry, it was throughout the same Divine Spirit who inspired the messenger and authorized the message.
By His Son
In opposition to the gradual revelation of the mind of God under the Old Testament, the apostle intimates that now by Jesus, the Messiah, the Lord hath at once begun and finished the whole revelation of his will. So Jude 3, the faith was “once delivered unto the saints”; not in one day, not in one person, or by one sermon, but at one season, or under one dispensation, comprising all the time from the entrance of the Lord Christ upon his ministry to the closing of the canon of Scripture which period was not at hand. This season being once past and finished, no new revelation is to be expected, to the end of the world.
The striking aspect of this statement is, that it appears (at the beginning!) in the epistle which leaves no stone unturned to show that the absolute and exclusive salvation is in Christ. This exclusiveness of salvation apparently does not at all conflict with the fact that God’s speaking in and by his Son is mentioned together with God’s earlier speaking “in divers manners.” The vision of the unique salvation in Christ, the High Priest, is no occasion whatsoever to devaluate God’s speaking and revelation in time past. To the contrary, God’s speaking is seen in its broad and varied scope: at sundry times and in divers manners. It is pluriform over a long historic period, a historic multifarious activity of God, which is placed next to “God’s speaking” by the Son, and this apparently does not in the least minimize and weaken Christ Jesus’ import, to the author’s estimation.
G. C. BERKOUWER
As in his person, in which dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, he rises above all classification and is sui generis; so the revelation accumulated in him stands outside all the divers portions and divers manners in which otherwise revelation has been given and sums up in itself all that has been or can be made known of God and of his redemption. He does not so much make a revelation of God as himself is the revelation of God; he does not merely disclose God’s purpose of redemption, he is unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. The theophanies are but faint shadows in comparison with his manifestation of God in the flesh. The prophets could prophesy only as the Spirit of Christ which was in them testified.
B. B. WARFIELD
The one expression “in a Son” involves in itself a full antithesis to the fragmentary model revelation given to the fathers in the prophets. In the first place, there is only one agent of revelation instead of many, therefore the revelation is given in one gush instead of in many separate parts. Then the absence of the article in the phrase en huio gives it this meaning, that one standing to God in the relation of Son can make a revelation which shall be perfect in its character, therefore complete and final in contents. The thought is substantially identical with that expressed in the Fourth Gospel. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” A Son dwelling in the bosom of God, his Father, and having access to his inmost thoughts, is fit to be the perfect exegete of his mind: such is the implicit argument of both Gospel and Epistle. This view implies that the Son must be the last speaker: no more remains to be said.
A. B. BRUCE
The Last Days
In these last days. This is a mode of speaking which was peculiar to the Hebrews. It originated from the fact that, agreeably to divine predictions, they were expecting the advent of the Messiah. His advent was the grand epoch in the world’s history, and constituted a dividing line between its two great portions, namely, the time before his advent, and the time, or the ages, after it, which time would endure forever, since the Messiah’s kingdom would be fully developed only in the eternal state. Among the Hebrews who lived before this event, the time then passing was denominated this age, these times, this world; and the period after this event was designated by corresponding terms, chiefly by the expression the world, or the age, which is coming, or briefly, the world to come.
H. J. RIPLEY
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.