Art Toombs Ministries 

Online Bible Commentary

By His Son

Hebrews 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 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 at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (NKJV)

The writer of the book of Hebrews, according to most commentators, is unknown to us today. However, he was known to those to whom this letter was addressed (Heb 13:19-23).

The writer was writing to Jewish converts to Christianity, therefore he was very likely one of their own, a Jew, like Paul. However, he wrote in a classical style of Greek, unlike the simple style of Paul.

Old Testament quotes are mostly taken from the Greek Septuagint, from which Paul did not regularly quote. And, the writer was anonymous. Paul identified himself in his other writings.

And yet, the doctrine is Pauline. The timing of the writing was also Pauline.

The writing was likely during the sixties A.D. There is no mention of the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D.

Also, the writing was that of a second-generation Christian (Heb. 2:3, 13:7), The literal Greek here defines a second-generation Christian as one who was not present during the Lord’s earthly ministry. The Greek reads “to be spoken through the Lord by the ones having heard” (Heb. 2:3). Paul would qualify as a second-generation Christian since he was converted after the Ascension of Jesus.

The writer was either writing from Italy or to Italy, as one who had been there (Heb. 13:24). Paul was imprisoned in Italy two different times during the sixties, and left the country in between the two imprisonments.

The writer only mentions one other brother by name, Timothy, who was like a son to Paul (Heb 13:23). The fact that Timothy was referred to as a brother (in Christ), and not a son could have been a contribution from the amanuensis.

The early Eastern Church (Dionysius and Clement, both of Alexandria), from the very beginning, claimed Paul was the writer. The Western Church later agreed.

Other suggested writers were Luke, Apollos, or Barnabas. None of these carry the weight of evidence as the writer that Paul does, however.

Luke was not Jewish. Apollos was a Jew from Alexandria, the hometown of the Septuagint, and yet, strangely, no early tradition suggested he was the writer.

Luther was the first to suggest Apollos, some 1500 years later. Barnabas likely knew Jesus personally, and would not qualify as a second-generation Christian.

If the writer was Paul, the discrepancies can be explained. The classical Greek language and heavy use of the Septuagint could have been provided by Luke. Luke was with Paul during his second Roman imprisonment and was his amanuensis during Paul’s final days (2 Timothy 4:11). It is logical to assume that Luke was also Paul’s amanuensis for this letter.

Luke also, later, translated the letter to the Hebrews into Greek, according to Clement of Alexandria in the second century. So, the Gentile Luke was familiar with the Hebrew language, as well as his native Greek. Thus, lending credence to Luke’s possible contributions to the letter.

The anonymity of the letter could have been on purpose, because of Luke’s (and possibly Timothy’s and Mark’s) contributions. Or, the anonymity may have been because of Paul’s unpopularity among Jews, or as a result of the persecution of Paul by Nero in Rome. 

This conclusion is that Paul was the writer with help from Luke and possibly Timothy and Mark who were also with Paul during his second Roman imprisonment (2 Timothy 4:11). The letter was written to Paul’s new Christian converts in Rome for the purpose of strengthening their faith.

This conclusion also is that this was Paul’s last writing, written in late 67-early 68 A.D., in response to the Gentiles in Asia Minor turning from his teaching to those of false teachers. Thus, Paul may have made a final appeal to his own people, the Jews, with his last writing, after he was rejected by those Gentiles.

However, the identity of the writer is not crucial. The author of all Scripture is God, the Holy Spirit.

The subject of the Book of Hebrews is two-fold. The first part, Heb. 1:1-10:18, references the superiority of Christ. The second part, Heb. 10:19-13:25, references exhortations to obedient living.

The subject of this passage is the superiority of Christ to the prophets. Paul begins by writing “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets” (v. 1).

Prior to the coming of Christ, God spoke through “prophets”. He spoke “various times and in various ways”.

Some ways that God spoke was through law, history, poetry, and prophecy. He spoke orally through His Spirit to prophets and through writing, such as the finger of God writing the Ten Commandments upon the tablets.

Paul continued by writing “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (v. 2a). These “last days” was a reference to the church age and the days following, the days under the New Covenant. During these last days God has spoken to us through the ministry of Jesus Christ, and His followers.

Paul continues “whom He has appointed heir of all things” (v. 2b). Jesus is the owner of all things.

Paul writes ‘through whom also He made the worlds” (v. 2c). Through Jesus, the “worlds”, all creation, were created.

Next, Paul writes “who being the brightness of His glory” (v. 3a). Jesus is the radiance of God's glory. All of the Father’s moral and spiritual glories are seen in Jesus.

He continues “and the express image of His person” (v. 3b). Jesus is the exact representation of the Father.

God has been revealed through the personhood of Jesus Christ. Jesus said “I and the Father are One” (Jn. 10:30) and “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jn. 14: 9).

Paul continues “and upholding all things by the word of His power” (v. 3c). All things are sustained by Jesus’ powerful word.

“In Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17b). The Lord speaks, and His powerful word sustains life and maintains the universe in its proper order.

Paul concludes this passage by writing “when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (v. 3d). Jesus is superior over the prophets because only He could provide purification for sins and then sit down at the right hand of the Father in Heaven.

So, Jesus is superior over the Old Testament prophets. When Jesus came to earth, it was the end of the prophets.

Prophets are no more, no matter what some may claim. God no longer speaks through prophets.

Instead, God speaks through the Bible, the Word of God, through prayer, and through the workings of the Holy Spirit on earth. Since Jesus’ coming, God “has spoken to us by His Son.”